Physical and Psychosocial Characteristics of Current Child Dancers and Nondancers With Systemic Joint Hypermobility: A Descriptive Analysis

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Abstract

• STUDY DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

• BACKGROUND:

The effect of current participation in dance training on joint pain and instability, fatigue, and quality of life is unknown.

• OBJECTIVES:

To examine differences in joint pain, instability, gross motor skills, nonmusculoskeletal systemic manifestations, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and fatigue between children with joint hypermobility syndrome/Ehlers-Danlos syndrome-hypermobility type (JHS/EDS-HT) who currently undertake formal dance training and those who do not.

• METHODS:

Children with JHS/EDS-HT and 1 parent completed reports providing data on demographic variables, symptoms, organized activity participation, HRQoL, and fatigue. Physical and functional measures included extent of hypermobility, aerobic fitness, balance, and muscle endurance.

• RESULTS:

Of the 102 participating children, 22 currently undertook dance classes, averaging 3.3 h/wk. While the dancers reported a number of painful joints similar to that reported by nondancers (mean ± SD, 5.5 ± 3.7 versus 6.4 ± 3.9 joints, respectively; P = .36), they reported significantly lower pain levels on a 0-to-10 scale (3.8 ± 3.3 versus 5.6 ± 3.4, P = .04) and found pain to be less problematic, affecting less of their body. They reported fewer unstable joints (1.0 ± 1.0 versus 2.0 ± 1.8 joints, P = .001), despite being more hypermobile (Beighton score, 7.3 ± 1.4 versus 6.6 ± 1.6 on a 9-point scale, P = .047; Lower Limb Assessment Score, 9.2 ± 2.0 versus 8.1 ± 1.9 on a 12-point scale, P = .02). The dancers had significantly better HRQoL in the subdomain of school functioning (P = .004) and reported less fatigue (P = .024).

• CONCLUSION:

Children with JHS/EDS-HT who are currently undertaking formal dance training have fewer joint pain and instability symptoms, less fatigue, and better HRQoL; however, the crosssectional nature of the study means that causation cannot be determined.

• LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapy, level 2b.

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