Category: Outreach

KIP Students Stay Active During Summer Break Presenting at National ACSM Annual Meeting

Isaac Lennox presents his research on the impact of “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” at ACSM.
Kyle Wehmanen talks during a group session about his analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting took place May 30-June 2, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

In attendance were two KIP graduate students, Isaac Lennox (MS) and Kyle Wehmanen (PhD), along with recent PhD graduate Isaac Wedig. All three attendees were proud to present their recent research at the ACSM conference.

Isaac Lennox presented a poster from his master’s research focusing on the nationwide impact of the “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” (EIM-OC) initiative. EIM-OC is a program run by the ACSM that promotes physical activity on college campuses and is a pillar of their continuing community outreach. Isaac L.’s work was very well received and garnered excitement and interest from other EIM-OC colleagues across the country.

Isaac Wedig gave a short, rapid-fire oral presentation on a portion of his doctoral research. He outlined his work with blood flow restriction (BFR) and exercise. Specifically, Isaac W. has built tools designed to help bridge the gap with BFR between research and practical usage in a clinical setting.

Finally, Kyle Wehmanen delivered a 10-minute talk as part of a group session on endurance athletes and events. He spoke about his ongoing analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing, including the 1000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational which traverses the same course as the legendary dog-sled race.

Overall, the Michigan Tech crew had a fantastic showing at the 2023 ACSM Annual Meeting and are already looking forward to next year! — Written by Kyle Wehmanen, PhD student

“Engineering the Future of Human Health”: KIP featured at MSU-MTU Symposium

Dr. William Cooke (KIP), Dr. Carolyn Duncan (KIP), and Dr. Kevin Trewartha (CLS/KIP) were among 12 researchers from Michigan Tech who met with colleagues representing the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University on March 13, 2023. Hosted by MSU in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this was the inaugural event of the collaborative research symposium between the universities.

Dr. Duncan and Dr. Trewartha presented during the “Neurological Disease and Aging Research” session, while Dr. Cooke presented at the “Cardiovascular Research” session.

In the fall, Michigan Tech will host the second symposium with Dr. Cooke as a co-sponsor. “This is an important collaborative opportunity, and I look forward to being among those who will be organizing the next collaborative meeting on October 27th–beautiful time to be in the UP,” he remarked when asked about the future event.

The full story and complete list of MTU and MSU researchers who gave presentations can be found in Tech Today.

Dr. Carolyn Duncan presented on “Balance and Functional Mobility” at the MSU-MTU symposium.
Dr. Kevin Trewartha’s presentation was titled “Aging and Cognition: Implications for Motor Learning and Sensorimotor Motor Control in Older Populations.”

Combating Childhood Obesity

As a part of the Public Health Minor offered through the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, students in the Introduction to Public Health class, taught by Dr. Kelly Kamm, were tasked with putting together a public service announcement. In this blog post, Ambarish Rao, an undergraduate student pursuing a major in Management Information Systems along with a minor in Public Health, describes the problems associated with childhood obesity.

According to the World Health Organization, ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ are described as ”abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” In the United States, obesity affects approximately 15 million children and adolescents. Childhood obesity increases the difficulty of daily living as it is linked to poor sleep, breathing problems, discomfort, low levels of physical activity, and reduced quality of life. There is also a clear link between childhood obesity and anxiety and depression and other mental health issues in children. Compared to children in the general population, children who are obese have a three-times higher chance of dying in their early 20s. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis are other common diseases associated with obesity.

The major risk factors for childhood obesity include a lack of physical activity, high calorie diet with low nutrients, inadequate amounts of high-quality sleep, high amounts of screen time, and adverse amounts of stress. So what guidance is there for a child that is obese and how can they be helped? The first is encourage and help them work towards achieving the recommended amount of 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This can be promoted through activities that are “fun” and enjoyable for the child. Some activities could be walking, biking, or scootering to and from school, playing with a pet, dancing to music, and organized sports activities. Promoting healthy eating behaviors to the child, which include high-nutrient meals with balanced macronutrients is also important. Some other habits that can be adopted are setting consistent family mealtimes, involving the child in meal planning by taking them to the grocery store, educating them about nutrition labels, and setting limits on snacks. Consulting a dietician for the child can be helpful as well. Good quality sleep has also shown to combat obesity. Children 6 to 12 years of age should receive 9-12 hours of sleep and teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should receive 8-10 hours of sleep. Two of the lesser-known causes of obesity are stressful environments and increased screen time.

Obesity in childhood can give rise to several major health issues, some of which can be fatal. Importantly, childhood obesity can be prevented and treated through various methods and resources. With the combined efforts from parents, family members, teachers, and clinicians all working together to provide a supportive environment for children, the obesity epidemic can be better controlled.

KIP December Health Brief: How to have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

As students, staff, and faculty gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and take a much-deserved break, it is important to protect those individuals around us. Stay away from others if you are sick, wash your hands, stay physically active, get enough sleep, and enjoy healthy foods (along with some of those holiday indulgences!). 

The KIP December Health Brief provides a snapshot of COVID-19 trends, notion of the “tripledemic” this winter, health and well-being tips, vaccine and booster guidance, and resources.

The current COVID-19 community transmission level for Houghton County is low (note this does not include results from rapid at-home tests). This is good news as hospitalizations right now are also low. However, the combination of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are on the rise across the country which is leading to an increase in medical visits and hospitalizations. The threat of a possible “tripledemic” is a current concern of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Accordingly, it is important that we continue to do our part by following the recommended public health guidelines. If you are sick, get tested as soon as possible. Finding out what you have will provide you with the best options for treatment and will provide crucial information to those around you so they can protect themselves too. As you travel over the winter break be sure to check community transmission levels at your destination as well. 

Also, some helpful resources for information on where and when to get COVID-19 booster and flu shots are Vaccines.gov and this CDC website, which will calculate when an individual is due for a booster. The U.S. Federal Government is also offering free COVID-19 tests by mail, and most pharmacies can help you use your health insurance benefits to reduce the price of tests.

Our public health messaging would not be complete without including physical activity promotion as a key mitigation component. As an effort to help keep everyone active over the winter break, the UP and Moving team will be delivering live workouts on Thursdays at 9:30am (12/22, 1/5) and Saturdays at 10:00am ET (12/24, 1/7). All ages and abilities are welcome, no specialized equipment needed, and join us through Zoom or Facebook live. 

Here are some additional resources

Upper Peninsula Community Health Town Hall Highlights Mental Health

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health conditions including anxiety and depression have increased approximately 25% according to the World Health Organization. In rural areas, like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, mental health needs for both kids and adults are often difficult to address due to a shortage of mental health practitioners and stigma around mental illness.

To help deliver health information and resources to Upper Peninsula community members, Michigan Tech University and Northern Michigan University have partnered to offer the Upper Peninsula Community Health Town Halls Series. Organized by the Health Research Institute and Center for Rural Health, the 60-minute virtual town halls are broadcasted live on Zoom, Facebook Live, and several radio stations including 97.7 The Wolf (WOLV-FM), 98.7 Rockn’ Eagle (WGLI-FM), 105.7 Eagle Country (WCUP-FM), and Q107 (WMQT-FM). The goal of the series is to increase awareness about community and preventative health issues and how they impact individuals, families, and the Upper Peninsula Region. 

For the most recent town hall, moderators Steven Elmer and Kelly Kamm from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Tech were joined by several community experts who discussed a range mental health and wellbeing topics and answered questions from the community.

As described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental health illness in a given year and more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. This serves as important wake-up call for the need to step up mental health services and support. Town Hall speaker Kristie Hechtman from Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions described several collaborative programs to improve resources and access to mental health services for community members across the Upper Peninsula. Likewise, Greg Nyen, Superintendent of Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency, summarized the strategic efforts being done to integrate mental health navigation coordinators and advocates within the school systems.

Abigail Wyche, Head of the Social Work Department at Northern Michigan University, described the efforts to strengthen the mental health workforce through their recently added Master of Social Work degree program. Over the past two years, more than 40 students have graduated and many have gone on to provide therapeutic services in the Upper Peninsula. As special advisor for campus wellbeing, Wyche also discussed a campus commitment to enhancing wellbeing which is described as a holistic concept encompassing biological, psychological, social, ecological and spiritual dimensions of health. Meredith Raasio, an undergraduate student and peer health ambassador at the Michigan Tech Center for Student Mental Health and Well Being, offered suggestions for maintaining wellbeing over the holidays including engaging in physical activity, spending time outside, connecting with family and friends, taking breaks from work and schoolwork, and making time for volunteering.

Since starting the Upper Peninsula Community Health Town Hall Series in September of 2020, over 125 trusted experts across the region and state have participated in 28 Town Halls. All town halls are recorded, archived, and can be viewed on the Michigan Tech Health Research Institute website and YouTube Channel. Each town hall is also re-broadcasted the Sunday after each live broadcast on ABC 10 (WBUP) at 12pm ET.

The continuation of the Town Hall series is in response in part to the 2021 Upper Peninsula Community Health Needs Assessment Report which includes survey data from more than 3,500 Upper Peninsula residents relating to general health status, prevalence of chronic diseases, health behaviors like diet, physical activity, and alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and rates for accessing preventive care like checkups, dental visits, immunizations, and cancer screenings. This report serves as an important guide for developing strategies to address the health needs of people across the region.

The Upper Peninsula Community Health Town Hall Series has been made possible through support from several health organizations including U.P. Health System-Portage, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.

KIP Students Visit Local Schools to Promote Health Science and Public Health

A team of Michigan Tech students visited local elementary, middle, and high school classrooms as part of state and national outreach efforts to increase awareness about health science and public health. Steven Elmer, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, organized the visits to coincide with the Michigan-Indiana Physiology Understanding Week and National Rural Health Day. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students engaged local students in hands-on activities focused on learning about how the human body works, healthy living behaviors, noninfectious and infectious diseases, and community health.

Kate Meister, a senior pre-health and human biology student, visited 4th grade students at Houghton Elementary School where she taught students about their own heartbeat. Students were led through an activity where they partnered up and crafted a do-it-yourself stethoscope from plastic funnels, balloons, and rubber tubing. The students were able to listen to their partner’s heartbeat through the stethoscope they created and learned more about the impact that exercise has on heart rate.

Kyle Wehmanen and Gwyn Hamlin, graduate students in kinesiology, used a slightly different approach involving the popular game Jenga to engage students at the local middle and high schools. That is, Wehmanen and Hamlin taught students about the importance of healthy living behaviors (physical activity, good nutrition, healthy body weight, not smoking) and impact of both noninfectious (heart disease, obesity, diabetes) and infectious (influenza, COVID-19) diseases on community health. By adding blocks that represented healthy living behaviors, the Jenga towers became stronger and were more resilient when blocks were removed that represented various diseases. Hamlin also talked about her journey from a Houghton High School student to Michigan Tech graduate student who will earn her degree in a few weeks to working in the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit at UP Health System Portage.

Felix Cottet-Puinel, a graduate student in kinesiology from Morzine, France, also assisted with the outreach activities and said that communicating health science and public health related concepts to different age ranges required creativity, presented some challenges, and was very rewarding. Several other students including Tyler Hampton, Isaac Wedig, and Noelle St. Pierre also participated in the outreach activities.

Together, the outreach team visited Houghton, Lake Linden, Dollar Bay, and Chassell schools and connected with over 225 students ranging from 4th to 12th grade. “These outreach events are critical to generating student interest in health science and public health focused careers as there is a major shortage of health professionals in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula”, explained Kelly Kamm, Portage Health Endowed Assistant Professor and Epidemiologist in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

As society continues to build forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, health focused outreach with local schools is key to generating more interest in health, science, technology, engineering, and math (H-STEM). Looking ahead, Michigan Tech’s new H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in early 2024. The new building will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research labs to advance learning, develop new technologies, and prepare a skilled workforce for tomorrow.

For more information about scheduling a health science and public health outreach visit to your classroom contact Tayler Haapapuro, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Academic Advisor and Outreach Coordinator via phone (906-487-3169) or email (tmhaapap@mtu.edu).

In the Spirit of #GivingTuesday and Beyond…

The KIP Department would like to highlight some wonderful local, non-profit organizations in our efforts to support our community’s health and well-being. Through The Portage Health Foundation‘s partnerships, there are many ways to give back as the holiday season begins.

All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by PHF on #GivingTuesday. But in KIP’s ongoing mission to create a healthier community, we encourage year-round support of these organizations.

Please visit the Portage Health Foundation’s website for #GivingTuesday for more information and a complete list of its partnerships.

KIP Contributes to American Physiological Society “I Spy Physiology” Blog

Master’s student Isaac Lennox and Dr. Steve Elmer wrote a post for the American Physiological Society’s nationally circulated I Spy Physiology blog. The post, entitled “Why It’s Still Important to Stay Active to Reduce COVID-19 Severity,” was published on October 5, 2022.

KIP graduate students have authored COVID-19 physical activity posts for this blog targeted for the general public in 2020, 2021, and, now, 2022. 

To read the full blog post and to find previous posts from KIP’s graduate students and faculty, go to APS’s website for the I Spy Physiology blog.

KIP Students and Faculty Participate in UP Medical Conference

Sherry Chen, PhD student, Poster Session Winner (tied 3rd place)
Isaac Lennox, MS student, Poster Session Winner (1st place)

Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and recently participated in the first annual Upper Peninsula Medial Conference, hosted by the Michigan Tech Health Research Institute, on August 26-28, 2022.

The focus of the conference was on rural health and health topics impacting rural communities (e.g., mental health, lifestyle medicine, diabetes, public health, orthopedics and sports medicine). Conference attendees included students, faculty, and clinicians from across the Upper Peninsula. The conference also provided continuing medical education credits for clinicians.

Graduate students Xingqian (Sherry) Chen, Isaac Lennox, Greg Miodonski, Isaac Wedig, and Kyle Wehmnanen presented their research and outreach-related projects. For the research category, Isaac Lennox and Sherry Chen earned awards for their poster presentations. For the physician’s choice category, Isaac Wedig and Kyle Wehmanen earned awards for their poster presentations. Isaac Lennox, Isaac Wedig, and Kyle Wehmanen, along with Dr. Elmer, delivered an interactive activity as part of the featured lecture on lifestyle medicine.

Isaac Wedig, PhD candidate, Physician’s Choice Winner (tied)
Greg Miodonski, MS student

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Exercise Physiology Laboratory and visit the Central Michigan University Physical Therapy Program – Satellite Campus. Dr. Chen and Dr. Elmer, served on the conference organizing committee. Dr. Elmer indicated that, based on feedback from attendees, the organizing committee is already discussing plans for improving the conference for next year.

Overall, the first annual Upper Peninsula Medial Conference was an excellent opportunity for students and faculty to showcase their work, learn more about rural health challenges, and network with clinicians. Thank you to the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Faculty for supporting costs for our students to attend this conference.

Upper Peninsula Medical Conference Featured in The Mining Journal

The Upper Peninsula Medical Conference was mentioned in The Mining Journal. Hosted by the Health Research Institute, the conference will take place at Michigan Tech August 26-28.

KIP faculty have assisted with the planning of the inaugural conference, and the department’s students and faculty will be participating in its events. More details can be read about in a press release featured on The Mining Journal’s website.