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Award Reports, March 2018

Posted on April 5, 2018

Student Travel Grant Report March, 2018  by Cassandra Thompson

Travel is a wonderful and inevitable part of pursuing a career in research and academia. It is wonderful meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures. The personal development that comes with such opportunities is also invaluable. My father would probably describe it as building ‘intestinal fortitude’: strength which comes from stepping out of your comfort zone, courage and confidence to present your hard-earned knowledge without fear of judgement, and independence to catch a plane for the first time in your life and never look back. The inevitable, is that experience in a world-renowned laboratory is very desirable for job prospects. Thankfully I was given such an opportunity through the International Study of Biomechanics.

At the beginning of my honours year, I wrote a proposal and stumbled onto using peripheral nerve stimulation; specifically, the Hoffmann-reflex technique to probe spinal reflex excitability. My subsequent PhD was dependant on the working-order of three electrical stimulators, which look like they could be from the 1970’s. Although modest, the positive of using simple techniques is that you become so enveloped in the physiology of human movement rather than mechanics of equipment. Being good at something seemingly simple, can be quite useful. And thankfully, Professor Jaap van Dieen also found something valuable in the techniques that I was using. I then applied for, and was successful in receiving an International Travel Grant (ITG) from the International Society of Biomechanics to visit Jaap’s laboratory in Vrije Universteit, the Netherlands.

Reflecting on my time, I made incredible friends, learnt new techniques and struggled to speak Dutch. If I could have my time again, I would have stayed longer. I encourage all students to apply for this opportunity and be a part of this society that offers so much to foster and support the research that we (students) conduct. I have learnt so much, and was able to experience what it is like to be in a large research group. The research environment at Vrije is centred on collaboration between academics, who also work closely with the incredible engineers and technical officers. However, it is important to give back. I was able to share the techniques that I have learned throughout my PhD, create protocols for running future experiments and worked closely with the technical officers to set-up their lab to be able to continue this research.

Before applying, I was hopeful, but did not think my application for the student ITG would be successful. I am incredibly thankful to the ISB council members for giving me this opportunity. I would like to thank Jaap van Dieen, Huub Maas and Sjoerd Bruijn for making me welcome at Vrije. A special thanks also goes to Jos van den Berg and Leon for their patience and assistance with making and modifying equipment for my stay.

Cassandra Thompson

 

Matching Dissertation Grant Report March, 2018 by Megan Dutton

Motion analysis of the upper extremity has received increasing attention over the last 20 years. Studies conducted in overhead throwing, specifically the overhead pitch in baseball, have primarily focused on the measurement of mechanical load and stress on the shoulder and elbow joints, as well as injury prevention2-8. While overhead pitching is thought to be similar to the overhead throw utilised by cricketers when fielding9, a paucity of knowledge exists around the latter topic.

With the assistance of an ISB Matching Dissertation Grant, a dissertation titled: “The Cricketing Shoulder: Biomechanics and Analysis of Potential Injury Risk Factors to the Shoulder in elite Cricketers,” has been conducted. This dissertation is specifically orientated around the throwing techniques utilised by cricketers when fielding and included a shoulder specific musculoskeletal screen, as well as biomechanical assessment of throwing technique. A total of 25 elite male cricketers, (each performing a total of 42 throws) were assessed, in order to determine:

  1. The kinetics and kinematics of various throwing actions (overarm, side-arm and under-arm) in cricketers, highlighting the shoulder joint.
  2. The effect of movement or displaced centre of gravity while throwing on the above kinetics and kinematics of the shoulder joint
  3. The potential correlation for injury, between throwing technique and musculoskeletal variables (range of motion of shoulder rotation, upward scapula rotation and hip rotation; isometric strength of the scapula stabilisers, rotator cuff musculature and hip abductors; and the flexibility of pectoralis minor muscle and posterior shoulder complex).

Currently, all data is being processed and analysed with the intention that these results should be available by March/April 2018.

Thank you once again for your generous support. Kind regards

Megan Dutton PhD (Exercise Science and Sports Medicine) Registered Physiotherapist

Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Department of Human Biology Faculty of Health Sciences University of Cape Town P.O. Box 115, Newlands 7725, South Africa

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