ISB Grant Reports

Posted on March 27, 2017

Research visit to learn ultrasound elastography method

András Hegyi, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

I am studying hamstring muscles as a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Neil Cronin and Prof. Taija Finni at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. I recently visited Prof. Antoine Nordez and Prof. François Hug at the Laboratory “Movement, Interactions, Performance”, University of Nantes (France) to learn ultrasound elastography method and apply it on hamstring muscles during muscle contractions. However, I happened to receive much more than I expected.

I spent around 2 months in this nice historical city. One month before my trip we had a meeting with Antoine Nordez and François Hug in Finland. My excitement started at this point, due to 2 reasons: first, they told me that no-one speaks English in Nantes, and second, that Nantes is a very rainy and dark city. After this point, I do not remember the rest of our talk, which was probably about my visit. But I was just thinking that if I get lost while going to the lab I cannot ask anyone where to go and cannot see the soaked map in the darkness either. Therefore, my first thing before I left my lovely English-speaking Finland was to pick up the most important French words from a dictionary to survive and to buy a super good raincoat.

On the day traveling there I was quite confident that I am well prepared. I slept one night in Paris on my way to Nantes. I rented a room there, and the first surprising thing was that the landlord spoke English pretty well! Before getting too happy he told me that Nantes is different, no-one speaks English there. But I learned the most important French words so no problem – I thought! Next surprise touched me when I arrived in Nantes: the sky was clear so it was a beautiful sunny day! It made me confident when I went to drink my first coffee in there. I ordered with my nice French knowledge. But they were just staring at me… Then I realized that they pronounce their romantic words completely differently than they write them! Well, in about 15 minutes I dived into the delicious flavor of their coffee and forgot about this incident for a while.

Although I could write much more about this lovely city (which had clear sky almost every day while I was there!), let me share some of my experiences in the lab, where I spent most of my days. I spent there a lot of time not only because everyone was speaking English in the lab but mainly because I could be part of an outstanding research team. Lilian Lacourpaille and Killian Bouillard post-docs helped me to learn ultrasound elastography method. We had many difficulties with recording reliably from hamstrings during contraction, which however forced me to dive deep inside to the methodology and gain a confident knowledge in using the method and interpreting the results. As an unexpected bonus, I also learned how to set up and use freehand 3-D ultrasound, another state-of-the-art method. To not get bored with studying human movements, I could also participate in a study where the validity of the ultrasound extended field of view imaging was tested on a delicious-looking meat, which was my first afterlife experiment. Even though everyone was very busy with his own things we had many meetings and discussions.

I experienced an outstanding hospitality in a great-working lab. Besides doing hard work in the lab I also had the opportunity to enjoy life outside the lab by visiting bars and eating delicious food in restaurants with these friendly researchers. This visit provided not only great opportunities for future research collaborations but established long-lasting friendships, hopefully. However, I still do not believe that Nantes is a rainy city, therefore, I will definitely go back to test it again!

Hereby, I would like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics for making my research visit possible, which was definitely one of my best experiences during my Ph.D. so far. I also thank Prof Antoine Nordez, François Hug and everyone in the lab for making my visit a great experience.


Visit to Nice to study high-performance training

Scott R Brown

What a year it has been. For me, 2016 started out like many other years before; filled with an incredibly long list of things to do and no idea on where to start. As a doctoral candidate in my final year of study at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), I understood the importance of knuckling-down and finishing my thesis. However, as a young researcher trying to make a name for myself, I also valued the importance of travel, conference presentation, collaboration and enjoying life. While perhaps difficult to imagine the cohabitation of these ideals, I was bound to make it happen.

Several years ago, while he was speaking at the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) Conference, I had the privilege of meeting Professor Jean-Benoît Morin from Université Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. Since our meeting, we have not only stayed in touch but have also worked on several manuscripts together (from afar). In the beginning of 2016, we discussed my involvement in a project occurring in Nice and whether I could fit it into my busy year. Of course my answer was yes and I frantically began searching for funding opportunities.

When I came across the ISB Student International Travel Grant, I knew it was meant to be. Not only was I an active member of ISB, but Professor Morin and my PhD supervisor Professor Patria Hume were as well. A research proposal and a few letters of recommendation later and I was in! The grant funding helped me to afford the hefty costs of flying from Auckland, NZL to Nice, FRA, accommodation for four weeks and other necessities like food and transportation. More importantly, the grant helped me live the life that I wanted to live by traveling, collaborating and experiencing such a wonderful part of the world.

While in Nice, Professor Morin and I worked alongside Dr Pedro Jiménez-Reyes from Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, Murcia, ESP on a project in sprinting. We spent several days Skyping with our collaborative team at Université Savoie Mont Blanc, Chambéry, FRA (Dr Pierre Samozino and Mr Matt Cross) and Glasgow Warriors, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, GBR (George Petrakos) to ensure we had presented a clear and impactful message in our manuscript. Before my time was up in Nice we were able to submit our project titled, “Very-heavy sled training for improving horizontal force output in soccer players” to the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.

Now, six months after my trip I am re-examining the most important aspects of my trip to Nice. Our manuscript has been accepted, is currently in press and I had successfully defended my PhD. While these are all great achievements academically, I find that I hold more valuable the discussions had with Professor Morin about life as a husband, father, teacher, researcher and athlete; and how anyone can be great at all of them simultaneously if you prioritise wisely. I cherish my memories enjoying the French cheese and beer with this amazing group of individuals (including a surprise visit by Dr Yann Le Meur from AS Monaco Football Club, Monaco, FRA), their supportive families and my lovely fiancé Erin during the warm summer on the French Riviera. I live differently today (academically and personally) because of my experiences travelling to Nice last year. I know that I have the council members for the ISB Student International Travel Grant and my collaborative European team to thank for this wonderful experience. Merci, gracias, kia ora and thank you!


Matching Dissertation Grant funded work into total knee replacement

Kevin Valenzuela

In February 2016, I received the email of my receiving the ISB Matching Dissertation grant.  I immediately put this money to work as my dissertation research had also just cleared the IRB protocol at my university.  The bulk of the money in the grant went to subject recruitment.  My research involves the investigation of biomechanical, strength, balance, and functional factors related to total knee replacement patients and their satisfaction levels with their replaced joint.  The overall goal was to look for identifiable physical characteristics which contribute to patient dissatisfaction.  In order to examine this, we chose to assess 3D kinematics and kinetics for over ground walking, stair ascent, and stair descent.  Additionally, we tested isokinetic knee flexion and extension strength, bilateral and unilateral balance abilities, and some functional tests frequently used in the rehabilitation process for total knee replacement patients.

As of the date of this report, we have finished collecting and processing data and are currently writing up four different manuscripts.  We spent approximately 10 months sorting through records of a local orthopaedic surgeon, identifying patients who fit our criteria, opening the lines of communication, and finally performing our data collections on them.  Each participant visited our lab on two different days to perform all of our tests.  During that 10 months, plus an additional two, we processed and analyzed all of our data, while compiling two abstracts in the process for conference presentation (one of which is the ISB conference).

We have examined a variety of variables we believe are related to patient dissatisfaction, which will be evident in the four manuscripts being written.  The first is on the strength, balance, and deep knee flexion abilities of our three participant groups (dissatisfied knee replacement patients, satisfied knee replacement patients, and a healthy control group).  The second is on the overground walking movement profile of the dissatisfied patient group as compared to the other two groups.  The third is on the stair ascent and descent movement profile.  Finally, the fourth, which is the exciting part of this entire project, is to perform a logistic regression on the data collected in order to find the variables which best predict patient satisfaction.

This project has been an adventure and a huge learning process.  From myself and those who have helped along the way, we want to sincerely thank ISB for their support of this project.  The monetary support provided and the faith placed in this project has been incredibly rewarding and helpful.  To know that it has the backing of an international institution in our field has provided a tremendous amount of moral support during the tough parts of the project.  Thank you very much for all the support.


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