3:40 p.m., March 8, 2011----Sixty students from the Henry C. Conrad Schools of Science got a crash course in athletic training research techniques and clinical practice during a visit to the University of Delaware on Wednesday, March 2, as part of National Athletic Training Month.
Conrad is a grade 6-12 magnet program focusing on biotechnology and allied health. The 10th through 12th graders who visited UD are currently taking courses in sports medicine and exercise science.
Three doctoral students in the interdisciplinary Biomechanics and Movement Science (BIOMS) program at UD -- Kathy Liu, Alan Needle and Laura Miller -- demonstrated research techniques including musculoskeletal ultrasound, joint stiffness testing and biomechanical motion analysis in UD's Human Performance Laboratory.
Miller outfitted Ronald S., who plays tennis and football at Conrad, with reflective markers, identifying each anatomical location as she worked. She then asked him to mimic an activity from each of his two sports.
The rest of the students crowded around the computer screen, which showed stick-figure Ronald simulating a tennis serve and a football move. Pointing at the image, Miller said, “Once we know the position of his markers, we can calculate velocity, mass, and forces. Biomechanics is all about physics.”
“This technology allows us to see how an athlete moves and then take that one step further to develop an intervention,” she added. “Our focus in athletic training is on preventing injury and finding ways to keep athletes healthy.”
In the Bob Carpenter Center training room, graduate assistant athletic trainer Craig Oates explained the RICE -- rest, ice, compression, elevation -- strategy for treatment of acute injuries and then showed the young students a cold compression boot, which combines all four functions in one device. He demonstrated it first on Conrad student Kelvin M. and then on injured UD basketball player Sarah Acker.
“It will become uncomfortable for her after the first few minutes,” Oates explained, “but it's essential to get started with this treatment as soon after injury as possible. Tonight, we'll tape her so that she doesn't wake up tomorrow with her leg looking like a grapefruit.”
The half-day visit was coordinated by Renee Allen, math department coordinator and athletic trainer at Conrad, along with UD's John Smith, head athletic trainer, and Tom Kaminski, professor and director of athletic training education.
“Most of the students have been in our training room at Conrad, either observing or as injured athletes themselves,” Allen said, “but it's different when they get out of their comfort zone and into the real world to see what goes on elsewhere and how the things we talk about in class are put into action.”
“The visit to the Human Performance Lab also allowed them to see that there is more to sports medicine than just the training room -- they can do research as well,” she continued. “They were amazed at the research projects and enjoyed the hands-on approach the graduate students took with them at the various stations. These kinds of experiences can open doors and provide high school students with new possibilities to consider for their future studies -- things they knew little or nothing about prior to the trip.”
“These types of field trips are invaluable for high school students, and I greatly appreciate the time the UD students and staff took to spend with them.”
The field trip also included an afternoon visit to the sports medicine facility at the Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, one of UD's partners in the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance.
Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Doug Baker