Thursday, September 5, 2013

Leah Fischer Shares Her PT Research Experience

Leah Fischer Shares Her PT Research Experience

Saint Louis University’s Program in Physical Therapy provides research opportunities for students who are interested. PT student Leah Fischer (Class of 2016) is pursuing such an opportunity as a research assistant. We asked Leah exactly what kind of research she does for the Program in Physical Therapy, why she became interested in PT research, and how it relates to what she is learning in her labs and classes.

Since I had a strong desire to broaden my exposure to the study of physical therapy and gain experience outside the classroom, I pursued a research assistant opportunity related to patellofemoral pain in females. I work in the motion capture lab with Program in Physical Therapy professor Dr. Gretchen Salsich and assistant professor Dr. Sara Scholtes using Dartfish, a 2D motion analysis software program. I import videos of females performing various movements and tasks such as a single leg squat or walking down stairs. Then I pause the videos at specified intervals and take measurements of angles related to the knee, hip, and ankle. The final step of this research involves analyzing and graphing the data using a statistical software program to evaluate the changes in movement.

This research project has given me the opportunity to apply what I have learned in Kinesiology, which is the study of movement. Through this research, I am able to study the movement of subjects with and without patellofemoral pain. This research has given me a better appreciation of the internal and external forces required to perform specific tasks correctly. While viewing the videos and measuring motion, I have gained a deeper understanding of how people move and the impact of those movements on their bodies and joints. This opportunity has given me greater insight into the importance of research in the physical therapy profession. 

Leah Fischer

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