Graceful Injuries

Fouette, sauté, jeté, hospital stay? Ballet movements lead to injuries in almost half of professional dancers over 40, according to the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland. Most are pelvic repetitive injuries, and many require prostheses, especially in hips. A new study by the university's Computer-Science Center shows that it may be possible to reduce injuries from ballet--and potentially other activities--by identifying ahead of time those dancers whose joints are most likely to fail. Using magnetic-resonance imaging, researchers mapped the joints of 20 ballet dancers at different stages of their careers to determine who should consider another line of work. Most young ballet dancers probably wouldn't quit anyway, says study leader Nadia Magnenat-Thallmann. "If they couldn't care less about crutches or a prosthesis then that's their problem, but at least they know," she says. Next year her team begins a similar study of the joints of soccer players.