The International travel grant offered by the International Society of Biomechanics gave me the opportunity to go on a research stay of six weeks (From August till the middle of September 2016) at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories of the University of Pittsburgh under supervision of Dr. Michael Boninger.
The research stay allowed me access to expertise, state of the art research facilities and research environment. Working together with staff and students in an extremely stimulating research environment in the United States was a unique experience which I will take with me throughout my further life. During the research visit I discussed and refined the research strategy of my PhD project with Dr. Boninger. The project aims to investigate the effect of fatigue on shoulder mechanics during wheelchair propulsion. I also learned to perform and analyse quantitative ultrasound protocols (QUS) which will be used in the data collection of the projects of my PhD. Another important part of the visit was the preparation of a manuscript which investigates changes in propulsion kinetics during an overground figure 8 fatigue protocol. With this project I gained valuable insights into the fatigue protocol which will also be used in further projects of my PhD. Besides working on the research strategy and the manuscript I also had the opportunity to observe data collection of several projects, moreover of the ambitious project of doctoral student Nathan Hogaboom including QUS. His project investigates how a fatiguing wheelchair transfer and propulsion protocol affects shoulder pain and pathology in hand-rim wheelchair users with SCI. Finally, I gave a presentation to the staff and students of HERL and the Swiss Paraplegic Research, my activities during the research stay and the finalised research strategy. It was a great honour to present for the staff and students and to be able to discuss the project with them.
The research visit was highly beneficial for my research project, was crucial to foster collaborations between the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and the Swiss Paraplegic Research regarding future research projects, and will be an important factor later on in my research career. I am enormously grateful for this opportunity and wish to thank the International Society of Biomechanics and the University of Luzern for their financial support. Furthermore, I wish to thank The Swiss Paraplegic Research and Dr. Ursina Arnet who fully supported me and helped me realise the research visit. Finally, special thanks go to my promotor Dr. Michael Boninger who invited me to come to visit their laboratories and spent a lot of time and effort in guiding me during this visit.
Swiss Paraplegic Research