New Concept of Performing Arts Medicine
Within virtually all these fields, there are a select few professionals who have an interest in and an understanding of performing arts medicine – care of performing artists. Just as caring for voice professionals (especially singers) involves special considerations and challenges for the otolaryngologist, caring for hand problems in a pianist or ankle problems in dancers also poses challenges for the orthopedic surgeon.
Orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, pulmonologists, and others who are accustomed to working with performing artists (dancers, wind instrumentalists, etc.) are most likely to have the insight, sensitivities, skills, and state-of-the-art information needed to provide optimal care to voice professionals. Many such physicians tend to be associated with arts medicine centers or are performers themselves.
No Current Training-Certification Program for Performing Arts Medicine
There is no certification or broad-based national or international organization that helps to identify physicians who concentrate on performing arts medicine, although some are members of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA). In most fields, there are no formal arts-medicine training programs or associations. Physicians acquire such training through their own interests and initiative, and through apprenticeship or observation with colleagues.
Referral Pathways for Performing Arts Medicine
If there is no arts-medicine center in the area in which a patient is seeking care, arts-medicine physicians are identified best by word of mouth or through arts-medicine-related websites. Referrals can be obtained through the local laryngologist or voice specialist, or by consulting with eminent performing arts teachers in the community. For example, the leading private, university, and conservatory violin and piano teachers often know who the best hand specialists are; the wind instrument teachers know whom to see for neurological and pulmonary problems that affect musicians; and dance teachers know the best foot-and-ankle physicians.
Evolving Performing Arts Medicine – A Role in Voice Care for All
Since voice plays such a key role in humanity as a whole and with personal meaning to each individual human life, all initiatives in voice care development driven by the unique needs of performing artists provide new voice care avenues for all.
Voice care is a key element of medical science. Voice health is a key element of patient total well-being. Patients with voice disorders are served best by a comprehensive voice team that coordinates the skills of professionals trained in various disciplines. It is important for the voice team to be interdisciplinary and to affiliate with arts-medicine specialists and other disciplines to provide comprehensive care for all voice patients.
It is also important for patients to be educated about the kind of health care that is now available for voice disorders and how to evaluate and select health care providers.