A recent study released by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows a stunning number of participants not only experienced concussion-related symptoms and head impacts but also continued performing either without reporting the incident or without receiving the recommended care. These participants were not taking part in any sporting contest at the time, however. They are theater personnel.
Their research revealed 67 percent of those surveyed had experienced at least one theater-related head impact. Astonishingly, 39 percent of respondents sustained more than five head injuries and 77 percent had more than three head impacts during their time in theater. Of those who experienced a head impact, 70 percent had concussion-related symptoms but continued working.
“There are probably several reasons for non-reporting,” said Russell, the lead author for the study. “In this particular industry, they don’t recognize how serious the injury is and they’re not accustomed to having healthcare close by like a sports team would. Some will keep going because if they don’t work, they don’t get paid. Some don’t want to be seen as not tough enough, particularly in the stunt industry.” Russell said that for all of the attention mainstream sports such as football and hockey get when it comes to concussions, performing arts is a “hidden industry behind the scenes. You don’t think of performing artists the same way you do sports athletes. Football is about collision. You don’t think about that in performing arts. They’re doing their work where they’re building things, moving equipment and often working backstage where it’s dark,” he said. “There are a variety of ‘booby traps’ in the arts world where an injury is likely to occur.”