Jeff Russell is not your everyday athletic trainer. Rather than working with athletes who compete in sports, Dr. Russell works with another type of athlete — performing artists. In late 2001, a dancer came to him asking for help with an injury. After he cared for her, word spread that he would help address injuries related to all performers at the university where he was working at the time. As a result, he is now happy to fill a much-needed niche and to help performing artists, a group of individuals who are not offered the same healthcare as traditional athletes, but who have just as many demands placed on their bodies.
Russell’s career started in sports medicine and orthopaedics. Once he changed his field to performing arts medicine, he received his Ph.D. in Dance Medicine and Science from the University of Wolverhampton in central England. Following that he worked at the University of California, Irvine, where he taught science classes to dancers to help them understand the movement of their bodies and how to stay healthy with the rigors of dance. At UC Irvine, he also started a clinic to provide treatments for injured dancers. After four years there, Russell was hired by Ohio University to bring his vast knowledge of performing arts medicine and set up a clinic here.
The Clinic for Science and Health in Artistic Performance (SHAPe Clinic) is a place where injured performing artists at Ohio University can be evaluated, treated and receive health and wellness advice from licensed athletic trainers who have the specialized equipment and knowledge to treat performing arts injuries. The care is provided with no out-of-pocket costs to the patients, who include dancers, musicians, actors, theater production personnel, and members of OHIO’s Marching 110. In addition to the clinic, SHAPe provides on-site healthcare for dance concerts, physical theater performances, and Marching 110 football game performances, and helps artists prevent injuries. Because of the countless hours performing artists spend dancing, acting, or playing an instrument, it is crucial for these students to have a place where they can receive healthcare designed especially for them.
In addition to providing treatment for artists, SHAPe maintains active research and education agendas. From Russell’s lab come studies about the biomechanics of artistic movement and the demands placed on the body by performing arts. In the Division of Athletic Training, he also offers courses in performing arts medicine and regularly speaks to groups of arts students about topics in health and wellness.
Russell serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS), a professional organization devoted to research and education that was formed to develop the dance medicine and science field. In IADMS he is starting a task force on concussions in dance. Dance-related injuries, and concussions in particular, do not receive enough attention, so he intends to increase education about dance concussions and improve dancers’ access to proper concussion care.
As an active member of IADMS, the Performing Arts Medicine Association, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Russell gives much back to his professional field. He especially enjoys mentoring students and young professionals and recruiting more people to positively impact performing arts medicine.
Some of Russell’s efforts at Ohio University have transferred to other universities. One of his former graduate students established the athletic training program for The Ohio State University’s Marching Band, and she currently serves as Assistant Athletic Trainer for BalletMet Columbus. Marshall University also set up an athletic training facility for its Performing Arts students modeled after the program Russell started at OHIO.
A scholar of women's studies, and OHIO's top newsmaker for 2016, Dr. Katherine Jellison devotes her research to various topics of the field, including women's suffrage and First Lady Studies.Read More