Category: Students of Kinesiology

KIP Students Find Creative Ways to Move Research and Scholarly Work

KIP’s COVID-19 Graduate Student Team published a letter to the editor online in December 2021. The publication will also appear in print in the March 2022 issue of Advances in Physiology Education. The contributing students include Ashley Hawke (PhD student), Xinqian Chen (PhD student), Isaac Lennox (MS student), Carmen Scarfone (MS student), Isaac Wedig (PhD student), and Jamie Phillips (DPT student). The full publication can be read on the Advances in Physiology Education website.

KIP alum and current Central Michigan University DPT student, Jamie Phillips wrote a blog post on blood flow restriction and the Tokyo Olympics that was posted on the American Physiological Society’s I Spy Physiology Blog.

KIP Graduate Students Prescribe Ways to Stay Healthy and Safe from COVID-19 this Holiday Season

What started out as a simple class project in Professor Steven Elmer’s Advanced Exercise Physiology course, has turned into something much more impactful. Led by doctoral student Ashley Hawke, the team of graduate students (Ashley Hawke, Xinqian Chen, Isaac Lennox, Carmen Scarfone) created the video “Staying Healthy and Safe During Covid-19” to provide: 1) updates on latest COVID-19 trends, 2) recommendations on how to stay safe, 3) travel tips, and 4) strategies to maintain physical and mental health.

The video stresses the importance of relying on credible information from sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, educational institutions, and non-biased news sources. The two-minute YouTube video offers a COVID-19 snapshot and has been circulated on campus and in the community. It has also been featured in the Daily Mining Gazette, Keweenaw Report, and on ABC 10 TV, and posted on the Western UP Health Department, Copper Country Strong, UP COVID-19 Town Hall, and Frontline UPdates Joint Information Center social media pages.

With Michigan COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations recently reaching an all-time high, communication of health information to help keep the campus and community safe and healthy is critical. Rural communities continue to face challenges, as they typically have a limited number of medical providers, hospital services, and public health resources compared to urban communities. “These students leveraged their broad-based training in health science to contribute to the COVID-19 response in their community,” explained Elmer.

Elmer also emphasized that the students’ video was in response to the US Surgeon General’s Advisory Statement to Build a Healthy Information Environment. The Advisory Statement tasks educators, researchers, and professionals to confront misinformation and help improve the quality of health information so that community members can make informed decisions about the health of themselves, their family, and community.

Isaac Lennox, a master’s student who aims to become a physician specializing in family medicine and rural health, explained that in addition to the video, the team created a COVID-19 resource website page along with a bi-monthly COVID-19 infographic for students, staff, and faculty in the department. With the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic and amount of misinformation circulating, it can be difficult to keep up and stay informed. The student team collaborated with Assistant Professor Kelly Kamm, an expert in infectious disease and epidemiology in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, to ensure accuracy of all materials created.

To stay safe during this pandemic, especially with the upcoming holiday season, the students encourage everyone to get vaccinated and get a booster shot if you are already vaccinated. They also recommend following the 4 W’s whenever possible – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance, and Walk to stay physically active. Looking ahead, the team of students will continue to do their part and use their expertise to help both the campus and community. As future health professionals, they want to learn as much as they can from the current pandemic, so they are better prepared to lead during the next pandemic. The COVID-19 video can be accessed here and on the MTU “Unscripted Research Blog.”

Dr. Steven Elmer, PhD Student Isaac Wedig, and UP & Moving Featured in “Unscripted Research Blog”

Isaac Wedig, KIP PhD Student
Dr. Steven Elmer, KIP

Isaac Wedig and Dr. Elmer wrote a guest blog for the series on how physical activity is a vital component to combating COVID-19. They go on to write about their development of UP and Moving, the exercise program created to keep the community healthy, as a response to the pandemic.

With over 200 free virtual workouts and counting, they are furthering their message that “exercise is medicine.”

Read the full blog post on the Unscripted Research Blog.

Ben Cockfield, a KIP Alum, Gives Pre-PT Advice

My name is Ben Cockfield, and I am currently a second-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Central Michigan University.

I received a BS in Exercise Science and an MS in Kinesiology through Michigan Tech. I began my academic journey in the biomedical engineering department with aspirations to design technology that would interface directly with the human body in some way to improve performance or quality of life. I quickly found out that the engineering-based curriculum was not holding my interest – but the anatomy and human applications of the information was. This was hugely important for me and ultimately led to my switching into the department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and is my first piece of advice: explore often, and if you can, early. Change your mind, change your major! You do not need to have a decision made about what you want to do right away but trying to open as many doors as possible early on – and keeping them open – is relevant for anyone, regardless of major or interests.

I didn’t know I was going to apply to a DPT program until I was starting my MS – although PT school had been on my radar, this felt like a bit of a late decision. Looking back, I am glad I took my time, and in the end, it cemented my certainty to pursue my DPT. This would not have been possible had it not been for the support and connections I made at Tech, specifically, my thesis advisor Dr. Steve Elmer, and the other graduate students in the department. Having a mentor that guided and pushed me was essential during my time at Tech and finding someone like this is critical for growth as both a person and as a professional. Moreover, interacting and networking with graduate students across departments was invaluable to me and highlights another important lesson – surround yourself with people who genuinely care about what they are doing. Passion is contagious, and when you are surrounded by people who are invested and willing to work hard because they care more about just getting a good grade, it encourages you to do the same.

One important note was that I didn’t wait until I was a grad student myself to initiate these interactions, and I would encourage other undecided students anywhere to do the same. The easiest way is to volunteer to be a research participant (affectionally referred to as a lab rat), this allows you to observe the type of research that gets done across a variety of departments while simultaneously learning more about the topic from the students and faculty directly – no one loves to talk more about the most up-to-date research, techniques, and projects than those directly involved with the process, so be careful how many questions you ask, you may end up being there all day!

The last bit of advice I would give anyone interested in pursuing PT is to involve yourself with your local community to some capacity – whether that is through a volunteer organization, church, job, etc. I have been a member of the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol for 5 years and believe that extending yourself outside of purely the academic community/college “bubble” is incredibly important for personal growth and getting in touch with the world outside of your own niche. Get out and learn about the people who make the community that you are a part of. This will extend to your future as a health care professional as well – you can’t expect to spend your whole life in the clinic or hospital!

To boil it all down, my advice for applying to PT school (or any graduate program for that matter!) would be to keep doors open (but don’t be afraid to change your mind!), surround yourself with passionate people, explore new avenues, and get involved with the community – Good Luck!

Pathway to Occupational Therapy School: Former KIP Student Alexa Destrampe’s Story

My name is Alexa and I am currently an Occupational Therapy student at Concordia University Wisconsin.

As an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech, I studied Exercise Science and also earned a minor in Psychology. As a pre-Occupational Therapy student at MTU, I was able to learn about the human body from many different perspectives. In addition to kinesiology and psychology classes, I also took courses in biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, neuroscience, epidemiology, neurology, mindfulness & meditation, psychopathology, & archaeology. Every course I took at Michigan Tech helped me become the occupational therapy student I am today, as OT is a holistic medical profession that highlights all branches of human health. That said, having a focus on movement science was especially helpful when learning the basics of the human body.

I chose occupational therapy as my future profession because it combines science and creativity effortlessly. For example, if two different clients came to see me for carpal tunnel treatment, their treatment plans would look very different from each other, even with the same diagnoses. Each patient requires treatment based on their unique occupations; things you need, want, and are expected to do in society. I was drawn to the vastness of opportunity that this career holds. I will never be bored and will always be helping others live their life to the fullest as an occupational therapist. Additionally, being an occupational therapist will require action through advocacy. Advocating for the profession as a whole, future clients, populations, as well as myself is something I am passionate about. 

I went into my first semester at MTU nervous to get involved but quickly shed that fear. While I was at Tech I spent a lot of my time in the athletic training room, in the sleep research lab, and out in the campus & local communities promoting healthy habits & lifestyle changes. I invested time into experiences that I was passionate about. Through these experiences, I gained confidence in professional and medical language, developed interpersonal skills, and sharpened my analytical skills. 

None of this would have been possible if I did not network with my professors, academic advisors, and mentors. The people at Michigan Tech are what sets my experience apart from what “could have been”. I truly don’t think I would have had the opportunities I did at MTU had I went elsewhere. The class sizes are small, the librarians and tutors are helpful, and the community that Michigan Tech creates is a safe one. 

I applied to Concordia University – Wisconsin’s program right on time. CUW’s OT program was one of the only post-baccalaureate programs in the country to have a January start. I just so happened to graduate in December and knew if I had the choice, I wanted to head right to OT school. If I hadn’t been accepted, I would have applied to other schools and took the next few months to take a breather. But, it was fate, so I packed my bags and headed South to Milwaukee! Concordia’s OT program is a great fit and the view of Lake Michigan even reminds me of home. 

My number one piece of advice is to take initiative when planning for your desired successes. When applying to OT school you should stay organized and be intentional about the choices you make starting your very first semester of undergrad. Talk to your pre-health advisor to plan both your academics and extracurriculars. I would also highly suggest shadowing practicing occupational therapists throughout your undergraduate career. This helped me directly learn about OT and stay excited about my future even when I was overwhelmed with the common stresses of school. 

KIP September Seminar: Public Health

Please join us this Friday, September 17, from 2 to 4 pm for two KIP Seminars.

The first seminar (2-3pm) will focus on “Careers in Public Health” and the second seminar (3-4pm) will focus on “The Intersection of Kinesiology and Public Health”. The seminars will take place in-person in ATDC 101 or they can be attended virtually through Zoom.

More information on the panelists and presenters, as well as how to join the Zoom meeting, can be found on the flyers below.

KIP Student Rachel Clayton Spent Her Summer Creating a 3D Vestibular Model

Read more about how Rachel’s internship inspired her to create a vestibular model that demonstrates what happens in the inner ear with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Josh Hill, DPT at UPHS-Portage Rehab Center. My special project for the internship was the creation of a vestibular model. This model can be used in the clinic to demonstrate to the patient what occurs in the inner ear with the condition Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when a crystal from the otolith organs becomes dislodged and falls into the semicircular canals of the vestibular labyrinth. The crystals that fall into the semicircular canals respond to changes in head positions that they would not normally respond to causing the patient to feel dizzy. 

The idea for my project arose in an appointment when Josh was trying to explain what causes vertigo in the case of BPPV. He shared, with me, instructions to create the model that would benefit patients’ understanding in these cases. I began the project by working with the 3D printing lab at Michigan Tech to print the base of the model. Mineral oil, clear plastic tubing, and crushed stone inlay were used to create the semicircular canals. The clear plastic tubing was increased in scale to represent the actual dimensions of the semicircular canals. The tubing was filled with mineral oil and a little crushed stone inlay. The small size of the stones in the mineral oil fall at the approximate speed at which the stones would move in the semicircular canals. 

Follow the link here to watch a video of Rachel’s model in action.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at MTU

With the beginning of the Fall semester around the corner, Michigan Tech in partnership with the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center will be holding walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics on campus. These clinics are open to all students, faculty, and staff.

The dates are August 24 during Orientation Week, and then September 1 and September 2 at the Rozsa Center Lobby from 3 to 5 pm. No appointment is required.

Please visit MTU Flex’s website for more information about the upcoming clinics and for additional information on quarantine guidelines and COVID-19 vaccination.

Gain Experience through the Athletic Training Student Aid Program

For those interested in Athletic Training, there is a great opportunity to gain some experience at Michigan Tech!

The Athletic Training Student Aid Program gives students the opportunity to work under an athletic trainer to acquire knowledge and skills related to the domains of athletic training, which can be valuable to all healthcare professions. Areas of opportunity in the ATSA Program include assisting in practice and game coverage, observing orthopedic injury assessments, and potential travel to MTU away games.

Please find the ATSA Program’s flyer and visit the program’s website for more information.

KIP Department Presenting at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics

The 45th annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics will take place August 10 through 13.

Jessica Pitts (MS, Kinesiology) and Dr. Carolyn Duncan’s (KIP) team will give two presentations during the virtual meeting. Below are the titles of each study and the colleagues who worked on them. Best of luck to all!

For more information on the American Society of Biomechanics and its annual meeting, visit the ASB’s website.

“Effect of Wearing a Backpack on Speed and Kinematics of Reactive Stepping”
Pitts, J., Verbrigghe, D., Siko, C., Smith, A., Elmblad, K. Komisar, V., Nussbaum, M. A., Duncan, C. A. (2021)

“The Influence of Huntington’s Disease on Reactive Balance Movement Latencies”
Pitts, J., Gainer, A., Seidowski, C., Gwaltney, C., Duncan, C, A. (2021)