NEWS AND NOTES
Gruben’s KIINCE ‘graduates’ from UW business accelerator
KIINCE, which is the brainchild of Department of Kinesiology Associate Professor Kreg Gruben, was among the successful start-up companies that “graduated” this past summer from a UW– Madison program designed to advance innovations based on campus research.
Gruben’s company developed a stroke rehabilitation device with assistance from the university’s Discovery to Product (D2P) program.
After studying the mechanics and control of leg function for more than two decades, Gruben pinpointed why stroke patients have difficulty walking.
“We have discovered muscle coordination patterns that correlate with how people walk after a stroke and predict which types of therapy will work,” he says. “Frequently, the ratio of muscle use is slightly off. The compensating behaviors are easy to see, so therapists tend to focus on them rather than the underlying incoordination.”
Gruben used D2P funding to build fully functional prototypes of neuromuscular retraining machines that precisely measure the mechanics of walking and give corrective feedback. KIINCE is finalizing the product and beginning to execute its strategy to drive clinical adoption.
D2P was formed as a partnership between UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and serves as a business accelerator for those on campus.
Department launches online Doctor of OT program
The University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents in December 2015 approved a new post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree program at UW–Madison. The OT program is housed within the Department of Kinesiology.
The new program is completely online — except for an initial orientation and final capstone project presentation. This allows OT professionals to continue working while pursuing their doctorate part-time over the course of nine semesters. The program offers coursework in leadership theories and models, administrative tools and techniques, teaching methods, and applied research methods.
“Getting a doctorate puts occupational therapists in the running for leadership roles,” says Sharon Gartland, the director of the OTD program. “I would recommend it for those who desire to keep moving forward in their career, whether that looks like clinical expertise, administrative responsibilities, teaching opportunities, or research participation.”
The first cohort of students started the program in September.
Phillips’ gift to support graduate student travel
A generous gift from alumna Sally Phillips will provide support to graduate students within the Department of Kinesiology who wish to travel to a regional, national or international conference in order to present an authored research paper either orally or as a poster.
The fund will be called the Sally J. Phillips Travel Award.
Dr. Phillips earned her Ph.D. in biomechanics from the Department of Kinesiology in 1978 and retired from the University of Maryland in 2015 after 27 years.
Kinesiology major a hit at Grandparents University
Learners from a diverse range of ages were able to major in kinesiology for the first time during this summer’s Grandparents University on the UW–Madison campus. Grandparents University is an intergenerational learning experience intended for children who are accompanied by a grandparent or older adult relative who is not a parent.
Grandparents University offers a range of “majors” and the older adults and children stay together in the same major for the two-day program. Students who majored in kinesiology were led by faculty, staff and graduate students from the Department of Kinesiology.
Participants engaged in numerous activities exploring the many fascinating aspects of human movement and the science behind how physical activity affects one’s body, with mini classes being held throughout the UW Natatorium. The kinesiology major was designed for children ages 11 to 14, with more than 60 individuals going through this Grandparents University program in July.
No Limits program, Design Concepts unveil prototype hand cycle
Since late 2014, a team of experts from Design Concepts, Inc., had donated several hundred hours of time while working closely with UW–Madison’s No Limits Kids Fitness program to create a hand cycle that was adjustable so children can use it as they grow.
A prototype was unveiled June 23 during a short ceremony at the UW Natatorium, which is home to the No Limits program run by Tim Gattenby, the Department of Kinesiology’s coordinator of adaptive fitness and personal training.
The No Limits Kids Fitness program is an eight-week summer class that’s dedicated to exciting and empowering children with disabilities to be active.
In addition, a front-page story in the Sunday, Aug. 21, Wisconsin State Journal put a much-deserved spotlight on Gattenby and his adaptive fitness program that’s geared toward training people of all ages with disabilities to find ways to get and stay fit. As the State Journal reported: “It’s a popular program that goes beyond physical therapy to help clients with all kinds of disabilities maintain active lifestyles while simultaneously training UW–Madison students to become a new breed of professionals in the medical field.”
Bell’s research puts spotlight on hazards of sports specialization
There is a growing sense among those who pay attention to youth and high school athletics that more and more young people are focusing their efforts on excelling at a single sport, instead of playing a variety.
But while sports specialization is a hot topic, there is a surprising dearth of research on this issue, says David Bell, an assistant professor with the Department of Kinesiology’s athletic training program.
So Bell, who directs the Wisconsin Injury in Sports Laboratory, and colleagues from across UW–Madison decided to collect data on this topic and produced a groundbreaking study that was published earlier this year by the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Titled, “Prevalence of Sport Specialization in High School Athletics,” this one-year observational study found that 36.4 percent of athletes were considered highly specialized. And the researchers found that these highly specialized athletes who trained in one sport for more than eight months out of the year were more likely to report a history of knee and hip injuries.
Bell is the lead author on the report, which was co-authored by, among others, Department of Kinesiology Ph.D. students Eric Post and Stephanie Trigsted.
Since that original study was published, Bell and research partners across campus have been busy replicating the initial findings with slightly younger athletes (ages 12 to 14) and larger cohorts of high school student-athletes. Bell says this work consistently shows that about 35 percent of young athletes are highly specialized — and that these athletes are two to three times more likely to have a knee or hip injury.
If there is a key takeaway for young athletes and their parents, Bell says simply, “Make sure your children are getting breaks in competition.”
Department of Kinesiology impressing Dean Hess
School of Education Dean Diana Hess spent a good portion of the 2015–16 academic year learning about various corners of the School, which is home to the Department of Kinesiology.
Hess started her post as dean in August 2015. Prior to that she served as senior president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. And although Hess is no stranger to the UW–Madison campus or the School of Education — having worked as a faculty member with the nation’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction from 1999 until 2011 — she certainly knew more about some units within the School than others.
So Hess has made it a priority to become more familiar with the Department of Kinesiology, its research labs and talented personnel. She not only attended department meetings to introduce herself and hear from faculty and staff within the department, but Hess also scheduled an entire day to meet and learn more from the department’s 17 principal investigators who are heading research projects across the UW Natatorium, Medical Sciences Center and Waisman Center.
Hess toured each lab and heard detailed explanations about the goals and research that was taking place.
“That was one of my favorite days as dean of the School of Education,” says Hess. “It was incredibly interesting to see the depth and breadth of remarkable projects taking place across the Department of Kinesiology.”
Around the Department…
• Dane Cook was elected as a fellow to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR). Cook is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, where he directs an Exercise Psychology Lab. Cook was honored at the annual ABMR meeting in June in British Columbia.
• Members of UW–Madison’s Athletic Training Students for Brain Safety (ATSBS) group were in Baltimore in June to promote the expansion of their grass roots organization at the annual meeting of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. ATSBS is an education and advocacy group that promotes brain safety on the campus and greater Madison community. In the past year, its members have used funds from a Baldwin Wisconsin Idea mini-grant to pursue chapter organizations at the state and regional levels. UW–Madison’s athletic training program is housed within the Department of Kinesiology.
• Sports Illustrated in February interviewed Department of Kinesiology Assistant Professor Jill Barnes for an article headlined, “How you can stay active without a formal workout plan.” One person who has thought a lot about this, SI.com reported, is Barnes, who has a “big interest in how exercise and physical activity can keep the brain sharp throughout a person’s life.”
• The School of Education recognized its annual Distinguished Achievement Award winners during a ceremony in April, and the Department of Kinesiology’s Jeannine Nicolai-Heckmann received the University Staff Distinguished Achievement Award.