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Photo: UPMC athletic trainer Brittany Gibson works with a PBT ballerina.

Kelley Anderson, DO, Primary Care Sports Medicine
Kelley Anderson, DO, Primary Care Sports Medicine

Life Changing Is ... Helping People Do What They Love

Kelley Anderson, DO, Primary Care Sports Medicine

"It is a privilege to work with these artists. They are dedicated to the performing arts and work so hard. When injured, they trust us with their care, and we share a common goal to get them back on stage safely."

Kelley Anderson, DO, loves watching the artists at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre perform. And she's glad to be part of the team that helps them do that.

Through a partnership between UPMC Sports Medicine and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, UPMC specialists work closely with the dancers for injury prevention and treatment. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, and Dr. Anderson regularly attend training rooms, rehearsals, and performances. They work to keep the dancers on stage doing what they love most.

"It is a privilege to work with these artists," says Dr. Anderson, who also provides care for student-athletes at Carnegie Mellon University and student-athletes and performing artists at Point Park University. "They are dedicated to the performing arts and work so hard. When injured, they trust us with their care, and we share a common goal to get them back on stage safely.

"Our goal is to keep them healthy and performing at their best so that they can continue to bring joy to the community with their performances."

UPMC Sports Medicine has a longtime partnership with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, along with other high school, college, and professional athletic programs. The partnership began through Freddie Fu, MD, the creator of UPMC Sports Medicine.

Like all athletes, professional dancers put in a lot of work to perform when the lights are on, and that can take a toll on their bodies.

"This is their profession, yet it's their passion as well," Dr. Anderson says. "They are constantly preparing themselves both mentally and physically. It is intense training leading up to the performances. Their strength is evident on stage, but the preparation is all behind the scenes. When you have watched them recover from an injury or be persistent in injury prevention, it's even more exciting to watch them perform."

The dancers at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre have direct access to the physicians, athletic trainers, and physical therapists at UPMC Sports Medicine. They get screenings in areas like strength, balance, and cardiovascular health. If an injury does occur, they have a direct line to get it treated.

There also is an emphasis on total body health, including areas like nutrition and mental health. The goal is to help the dancers stay at peak performance level.

“Because of this partnership and the direct access, we can tackle issues early on before they become prolonged and can treat acute injuries more quickly and decrease the time away from rehearsals and classes," Dr. Anderson says.

The clinicians of UPMC Sports Medicine develop close relationships with the artists through working together so regularly. If a dancer does get injured, the entire UPMC team works to get them back to the stage as quickly and as safely as possible. They focus on the dancer's physical and mental health as they go through recovery.

It all pays off when a dancer is able to return to the stage.

"It is so rewarding to see them perform on stage after they have worked so hard to get back there after an injury," Dr. Anderson says. "I'm proud to be a part of such an amazing partnership between UPMC Sports Medicine and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre."

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means helping amazing things happen.

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