“Their Bodies Are Their Livelihoods”
SHS DPT Spends Clinical Affiliation with Boston Ballet
When the stars of the Boston Ballet’s upcoming performance of William Forsythe’s Artifact have an injury, a Touro College School of Health Sciences (SHS) Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT) student will be waiting in the wings.
Sarah Schobben, a third-year student in the DPT program, is spending her clinical affiliation with the Boston Ballet.
“Every young dancer dreams of being a ballerina,” said Schobben, who was classically trained since she was two-years old. Schobben danced throughout her childhood, performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and in several Nutcracker performances. “I wanted to dance as long as I could, but also knew in the long-term I wanted to do something in the medical field.”
Her own dance injury experiences—including bulging discs, muscle strains, and an ACL tear—led her to the physical therapy profession.
“I experienced physical therapy and knowing what it can do, I wanted to help others return to their full potential,” Schobben said.
Schobben attended the University of Florida. (“I always knew I wanted to be a Florida Gator,” she said.) While she took dance classes and was a member of the dance team, she majored in physiology and kinesiology.
“Dance is a wonderful artistic outlet,” said Schobben. “It’s moving and it allows you to reach the creative part of who you are in a physical way. It’s a beautiful way to express yourself.”
After graduating, Schobben looked into various physical therapy programs.
“I wanted to venture out of Florida,” said Schobben who chose SHS DPT because of the positive things she heard about it. “I knew I wanted to do something in the performing arts and the northeast has such a plethora of it.”
“My experience in the SHS DPT program has been great,” Schobben continued. “I’ve had some amazing opportunities with my clinical affiliations and the professors have been wonderful.”
Looking to merge both her passion and her professional aspirations, Schobben contacted Heather Southwick, the Boston Ballet’s Director of Physical Therapy, about spending her third clinical affiliation with the ballet. She began in January and finished in the first week of March.
On average, Schobben said, she and the team see between 15-20 dancers each day with a variety of ailments.
“We see a great deal of foot and ankle injuries; meta-tarsal issues; hip injuries and hip pathologies;” explained Schobben. “Their injuries are both chronic and acute. The dancers will have rehearsal for six hours and may experience a muscle spasm or alignment issue, and they need physical therapy to help with the recovery aspect as well. Lately, because the choreography for Artifact is very upper body involved, we have been seeing pretty much everything.”
Her own dancing experience has proved invaluable.
“You really can relate to these dancers,” said Schobben. “They come in and are frustrated about their injuries and chronic conditions, and you understand what they’re going through. What is really great about this population is their level of compliance. These individuals want to heal and return to dancing. They come to you because dancing is their profession: their bodies are their livelihoods.”