ORLANDO, Fla. – The fear of an injury can be paralyzing for professional athletes but treating any potential problem early can significantly impact their careers.
When most people think of professional athletes and injuries torn ACLs, broken bones or concussions top the list. Company members with the Orlando Ballet have a different form of pressure associated with any injury, including sprained ankles.
“I sprained my ATFL and that was quite scary because I couldn’t bend my leg all a sudden,” John Abenanty said.
Abenanty said the professional ballet dancers wake up early, and spend eight hours a day learning steps, practicing costume changes and having fittings.
“I mean it looks elegant, but it’s really an athletic profession, and it’s easy to forget because we’re not tackling people,” Abenanty said.
Dr. Elizabeth Davis with Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute treated Abenanty’s injury. The sprain forced him out of his first season with the Orlando Ballet, but Davis said she expects him to be back on his feet in September.
“They got me in the next day to see Dr. Davis I got an X-ray and an MRI the day after it was all really quick,” Abenanty said.
Sports medicine physicians with Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute provided specialized care for the Orlando Ballet. Davis has been treating the professional dancers for many years.
“It’s a lot of counseling, it’s a lot of reassurance, it’s a lot of you’re going to be OK,” Davis said.
Hitomi Nakamura danced the role of “Daisy” in the company’s performance of “The Great Gatsby.” Nakamura said even the fear of an injury can cause a mental block during rehearsals.
“And it’s like a flashback to me and I think all of us, because you, like remember the feeling a bit, like how it happened,” Nakamura said.
Davis said treatment for professional athletes calls for a different approach.
“Because if their body breaks down on them, they’re not going to be able to have a career, whereas if I can keep their body healthy then I can maintain their career,” Davis said.
In most cases, Davis said physical therapy, rest and proper nutrition allow her patients to heal and continue performing.
“I love it. Yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Abenanty said.