Putting research into motion

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Putting research into motion

Spotlight on Physical Therapy: faculty and students walk the talk by testing evidence-based treatments

A group of UND physical therapy students are putting their best feet forward in the quest to find possible causes of one of the more common sports-related leg injuries.

In many sports, tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee continue to be problematic for athletes. With discrepancy in neuromuscular function, a likely factor in injury predisposition, research at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences is currently being directed at the prevention of this injury.

UND physical therapy students Casey Darling, Marissa Laddusaw, Elizabeth Kornkven and Hayley Letvin are examining the "muscle activity/foot position relationship" as a possible means to identify people who might be at risk for ACL injuries. Their research investigates whether the position of the foot influences the muscles of the lower extremity and therefore increases or decreases knee injury risk, depending on the nature of the foot–ground interface.

The students utilize advanced motion analysis equipment to assess joint-specific movement and electrical activity of the muscles during activity.

The "Vicon Motion Analysis" equipment, specialized cameras and software allow the students to capture the movements of the human body at more than 100 frames per second. Analysis at that level of detail provides the students with an opportunity to objectively assess differences between the various experimental conditions of the study.

The research project utilizes a single-leg squat on a stable surface with five varying inclination angles. If foot position demonstrates a significant influence on joint biomechanics and muscle activity, the theory is that foot support, through orthotic devices, could be an answer to decreasing the risk of injury.

Mark Romanick and David Relling

Mark Romanick is an associate professor of physical therapy in the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

His partner, David Relling also is an associate professor in the department.

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