Other Services & Specialties, Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Unique Performing Arts Medicine Program Helps Professional Artists Protect Their Most Valuable Assets

Oct. 9, 2023 - Eden McCleskey

Tina Turner famously maintained a $3.2 million insurance policy for her legs, and Mariah Carey's vocal cords are reportedly insured for $35 million.

The Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine takes a different approach — proactive, more affordable — to help artists protect the parts of themselves that are most valuable to their professional careers.

The only center of its kind in the country, the Center for Performing Arts Medicine encompasses a specialized group of more than 100 physicians working collaboratively to address the specific demands placed on artists.

"Many people are surprised that a major hospital would take this on in a way that is sort of unprecedented," said director Todd Frazier in a recent PBS News Hour profile that put the unique Houston Methodist program in the national spotlight.

Dr. Yin Yiu, a Houston Methodist laryngologist who treats opera singers, actors, broadcast journalists and others as part of the program, says voice performers are susceptible to overuse injuries including swelling, straining and even hemorrhage of the vocal cords.

"We think about athletes, right, and they have like this whole team of people that take care of them," Dr. Yiu told PBS. "And we don't really think about performers in the same way."

Founded in 1992 by otolaryngologist Dr. Richard Stasney, the hospital decided it fit with their values to support the vibrant arts and culture scene within the Houston community.

Following a sports medicine model of care, the center provides medical care and services focused on preventing and treating injuries and conditions that commonly keep musicians, dancers, actors and other artists from performing at the top of their range.

Specialists in otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery, psychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, among others, partner with individuals and elite institutions such as the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera to ensure that members of the performing arts community receive medical care that keeps their artistic needs in focus.

The Houston Ballet now has an on-site clinic giving dancers daily access to athletic trainers and physical therapists.

"The big idea is to change from reactive to proactive care," said Houston Ballet Executive Director James Nelson in the PBS piece.

To learn more about this innovative program, click here to watch the PBS News Hour story or here to watch a story that recently aired on NBC's Houston Life.

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