Lisa Braun, director of athletic training education at Southwestern College, recently took seven students and a 2012 SC graduate to get a behind-the-scenes look at what a physical therapist does with the touring Disney production of “The Lion King.”
Braun says that physical therapists and athletic trainers do a lot of similar things.
The group spent an hour with Dionne Vernon, a physical therapist for “The Lion King,” while the show was in Wichita. It was an opportunity to witness a physical therapist at work at a performing arts event and not at a sporting event.
“I e-mailed Disney hoping for the best, and after a few weeks, I finally heard back,” Braun says. “They allowed us to go to the show and see what Dionne does for the injuries that occur to the performers.”
The SC students got the opportunity to see Vernon in action and see for themselves what a typical day is like as well as inquire about her traveling schedule and what common injuries are associated with this kind of intense production.
“Athletic trainers have job opportunities like that,” Braun says. “We don’t always get to see that side so it was a unique opportunity to learn more about that. They got a chance to learn about common injuries that occur in the performing arts world. We don’t typically think that an athletic trainer or a physical therapist would be working on Broadway but they do.”
Students that attended were Laken Campbell, Tiffany Rodgers, Mallorie Coffman, Jamiee Grinstaff, Allyssa Zentner, Caitlin Hays, and Mandy Watson. Also attending was 2012 SC graduate Kindell Copeland.
“At first I had no idea they had physical therapists for theatre shows,” Zentner says. “With the large headgear that was worn in the production, if their head position is incorrect, an injury may occur.”
“There are athletic trainers that work for NASA, DisneyWorld, in the Senate, and in fire and police departments,” Braun says. “Anywhere that an injury can take place, athletic trainers can be used and are hired. It was a good opportunity to see something outside the athletic world.”