The Broadway PT
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
The backstage door is on West 41st street.
Press the doorbell and let the security guard know that you are the physical therapist (PT).
Walk up 1 flight of stairs and the call board will be on your left side.
Continue up to the third floor.
Walk down the hallway, past the makeup and hair rooms. The PT treatment room is on your left, next to the second track cast's wardrobe.
Those were my instructions for how to reach the treatment area of the new Broadway show I will work with every Monday and Wednesday, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
I get similar instructions from my manager every time a new show premieres.
These old theaters are magnificent. An ever-changing maze, and I'm not known for having the best spatial memory. I make it to my treatment room and set it up as needed, and I wait for today's performers to arrive.
When performers start to arrive, that's when the fun truly begins. As my mentor always said, "You never know what will come in through that door." She's right.
Sometimes, it's just a fun surprise in the form of a performer wearing the character's full makeup and hair ready for their physical therapy session.
Other times, the surprise comes from the clinical conundrum of yellow and red flags that you could face in any orthopedic-based setting.
During the 8 years that I have worked with Broadway performers as part of the production medical staff, we have helped identify multiple serious conditions like bone fractures, concussions, and deep vein thrombosis.
On those occasions, the show's physician was consulted for confirmation or rejection of the working hypothesis.
Most shows have an integrative team of health care professionals keeping the performers healthy and on-stage night after night.
With an average of 8 shows a week, you can imagine the toll it takes on the performers.
Broadway musicals typically involve singing, acting, and dancing. Have you ever treated a singer, a dancer, or an actor? They are the most resilient, passionate, and sensitive people I have ever met.
The athleticism of Broadway performers is complemented by an eternal search for beauty. It is the ultimate mind-body challenge for both the performers and the clinicians.
Psychologically informed practice is delivered together with skilled orthopedic manual therapy most days of the week, and while it's both exhausting and exhilarating, I would not change it for anything in the world.
Hector Lozada, PT, DPT, currently works as a clinical supervisor at the Hospital for Special Surgery and provides backstage physical therapy to performers of various Broadway musicals. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a doctor of physical therapy degree from Boston University. Lozada is a certified manual physical therapist, and he completed an orthopedic residency program at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy. You can connect with him via email.