A first in clinical placement in performing arts medicine

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have provided a unique opportunity for physiotherapy students


The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games open on 28 July and close on 8 August with spectacular ceremonies.

They will involve 1,500 performing artists, including dancers, musicians and circus performers.

The ceremonies team approached The University of Birmingham, School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences to find out if physio students would be available to treat MSK problems at rehearsals.  The rehearsal schedule (up to three a day, six days a week), started in May.

The department has used this opportunity to trial a new ‘long arm’ model of clinical placement. In this unique way of learning, teams of students work together in a ‘lone-but-supported’ environment.

32 students were recruited to learn through the ‘long-arm’ clinical placement model.

We’ve worked closely to provide the students with a structured and assessed learning experience, involving:

  • Zoom and face-to-face lectures from British Association of Performing Arts (BAPAM) Medicine physios.
  • practical sessions at Birmingham University School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences.
  • clinical supervision at rehearsals led by expert BAPAM physiotherapists.
  • supervised visits to Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra rehearsals (they are both involved in the opening and closing ceremonies).

During rehearsals clinical educators visited the students most days, offered remote online support, and platforms such as WhatsApp are used for fielding clinical, practical, and logistical questions. Enhancing student learning experiences by recruiting expert clinicians from a variety of specialist settings is an exciting development as a model for clinical education and has potential to be applied in other areas of physiotherapy clinical education, such as occupational health and sport.

It is anticipated that providing pre-reg students with the unique experience of working with a variety of performing artists at such a high-profile event will promote interest in working in this fascinating, varied and extremely rewarding field.

Placement organisers

The placement has been organised and co-ordinated by Judith Coe and Sarah Upjohn.

Jude is a teaching fellow in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, and Sarah is a physiotherapist at the Purcell School for Young Musicians, wellbeing lead for the National Children's Orchestra's and an assessing clinician for the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). 

They are  more than happy to answer any questions or queries about the clinical placement, about performing arts medicine in general, or about the role of physiotherapy within performing arts medicine.

Judith Coe: j.coe@bham.ac.uk
Sarah Upjohn: sarahupjohn@yahoo.co.uk

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