Theater Workers' Head Injuries Often Go Unreported

Theater Workers' Head Injuries Often Go Unreported

Concussions are common among theater workers and even actors, but perhaps because the show must go on, these head injuries get little attention, a new study finds.

Ohio University researchers did an online survey of 209 people in the theater industry. Most had production or technical roles, such as lighting technician or stage manager.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they'd suffered at least one head impact while working in a theater, and nearly 40 percent said they'd had more than five.

Most who sought medical help were diagnosed with a concussion. Of those with concussions, 28 percent did not get recommended care, such as a reduced schedule allowing a gradual return to work.

Nearly all concussion research focuses on athletes. But theaters have many head injury hazards, including dim lighting, backstage equipment and stage combat, the study authors noted.

Lead author Jeffrey Russell, director of science and health in artistic performance at Ohio University, said the study shows that theater workers have high rates of head injury, and that concussions are often unreported, undiagnosed and undertreated.

The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

"A move is needed toward adopting methods that increase awareness of the prevalence and seriousness of occupational injury in theater," the study authors wrote in a journal news release. In addition, theater personnel must have access to "definitive, evidence-based health care" for work-related concussions.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on concussion.


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