Injury Patterns Similar for 'Circus' Artists, Elite Athletes

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FRIDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cirque du Soleil performers have injury patterns that are similar to those of elite athletes in competitive sports, say researchers who analyzed 18,000 such injuries between 2002 and 2006.

Injuries of the knee and ankle were most common, and the shoulders accounted for half of all injuries to the upper extremities. Most injuries (45 percent) occurred to muscles and tendons. Fractures and head injuries were rare, together accounting for less than 5 percent of all injuries.

There was no difference in the anatomical location of types of injuries suffered by males and females, and the pattern of injuries remained consistent from year to year, the study found.

"The common types of injuries you see in trained elite athletes are not unlike what the Cirque du Soleil artists are experiencing when they get injured," study author Dr. Ian Shrier said in a prepared statement.

"There are acute injuries such as sprains and strains, and overuse injuries such as tendonopathies. After they rehab, just like other athletes, they have the opportunity to return to performance. It takes high-caliber conditioning and discipline to be a Cirque performer, just as it does to be an elite athlete in any sport," Shrier said.

The findings were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, in Indianapolis.

Cirque de Soleil officials said they plan to use the injury surveillance data to identify injury trends and to develop and implement programs to minimize injury rates.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about sports injuries.