Date of Award


Degree Name

Exercise Science


College of Health Professions

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Mark Timmons, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Henning Vauth

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary McIlvain

Fourth Advisor

Mr. John Colclough


Background: The demands on successful performing artists are two-fold. First, they have to perform at a high skill level for their specific art, such as theater, marching band, dance, and color guard. Second, they need to achieve the aesthetic demands of their discipline. Musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries can impact either or both of these elements and affect their overall performance. If MSK injuries are not addressed early in a performer’s career, they can develop into chronic problems that take performers out of rehearsals, practices, and performances.

Purpose: This epidemiological study aimed to investigate the prevalence of MSK injuries within the Center for Wellness in the Arts at Marshall University (CWA) and then compare the prevalence of MSK injuries in the published literature. The hypothesis was that the CWA would result in a lower prevalence of MSK injuries due to the collegiate age of the performers.

Methods: Investigators sorted through the published literature and found 24 studies or reviews that established a baseline prevalence of MSK injury outside of Marshall University’s performing arts community. Investigators implemented a retrospective evaluation of data collected within the CWA to compare the prevalence of injuries within the performing arts at Marshall University to the published literature.

Results: The CWA reported less than expected injuries to the knee (χ2 = 21.969, p < 0.001), ankle (χ2 = 12.931, p = 0.003), calf (χ2 = 11.253, p = 0.007), foot (χ2 = 22.039, p < 0.001), lumbar spine (χ2 = 30.613, p < 0.001), shoulder (χ2 = 42.726, p < 0.001), thoracic spine (χ2 = 5.045, p = 0.024), hand/wrist/and finger (χ2 = 55.181, p < 0.001), upper arm/elbow/and forearm (χ2 = 47.292, p < 0.001), head and neck (χ2 = 35.011, p < 0.001), lower extremity (χ2 = 181.967, p < 0.001), and illnesses or ailments categorized as “other” (χ2 = 7.506, p < 0.001). Data analysis, with a p-value greater than 0.05, resulted in no statistical difference between injury prevalence of the CWA data compared to the published literature. The CWA reported a greater prevalence of injuries to the hip (χ2 = 2.274, p = 0.131), thigh (χ2 = 0.257, p = 0.611), and upper extremities (χ2 = 0.043, p = 0.835) compared to the reported literature.

Conclusions and Practical Relevance: The CWA showed a lower prevalence of MSK injuries than the published literature in the epidemiological review. Implementing preventative medicine interventions earlier in a performing artist’s career can reduce the detrimental impact of overuse injuries. This can result in prolonging the careers of performing artists and improving their health.


Kinesiology -- Research.

Musculoskeletal system -- Research.