An Analysis of 5 Years of Data From Cirque du Soleil for Injury Patterns and Injury Rates in the Circus Arts.

Background Human circus arts are gaining increasing popularity as a physical activity with more than 500 companies and 200 schools. The only injury data that currently exist are a few case reports and 1 survey.

Hypothesis To describe injury patterns and injury rates among Cirque du Soleil artists between 2002 and 2006.

Study Design Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods The authors defined an injury as any work-related condition recorded in an electronic injury database that required a visit to the show therapist. Analyses for treatments, missed performances, and injury rates (per 1000 artist performances) were based on a subset of data that contained appropriate denominator (exposure) information (began in 2004).

Results There were 1376 artists who sustained a total of the 18 336 show- or training-related injuries. The pattern of injuries was generally similar across sex and performance versus training. Most injuries were minor. Of the 6701 injuries with exposure data, 80% required ≤7 treatments and resulted in ≤1 completely missed performance. The overall show injury rate was 9.7 (95% confidence interval, 9.4–10.0; for context, published National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s gymnastics rate was 15.2 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures). The rate for injuries resulting in more than 15 missed performances for acrobats (highest risk group) was 0.74 (95% confidence interval, 0.65–0.83), which is much lower than the corresponding estimated National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s gymnastics rate.

Conclusion Most injuries in circus performers are minor, and rates of more serious injuries are lower than for many National Collegiate Athletic Association sports.

Article Participants
Ian Shrier, MD, PhD†*, Willem H. Meeuwisse, MD, PhD‡, Gordon O. Matheson, MD, PhD§, Kristin Wingfield, MD||, Russell J. Steele, PhD†, François Prince, PhD¶, James Hanley, PhD† and Michael Montanaro#

Author Affiliations

† McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
‡ University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
§ Stanford University, Stanford, California
|| Center for Sports Medicine, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, San Francisco, California
¶ Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada and
# Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

*Address correspondence to Ian Shrier, MD, PhD, 3755 Cote Ste-Catherine Rd, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3T 1E2 (e-mail: