Kinesiology students present abstracts at ACSM meeting

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Senior exercise science major Savanna Yates was part of six kinesiology students that presented an abstract for the Midwest Regional Chapter of the American College Sports Medicine (ACSM) on Nov. 4-5. Chosen by the ACSM committee, Yates has a concentration in pre-occupational therapy and studied the potential relationship between microvascular oxygenation levels and muscular hand grip endurance. According to Yates, she had some other ideas before eventually working with Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology Trent Cayot to find what she wanted to study.

“Dr. Cayot is really interested in the microvascular oxygenation levels, so we combined that with handgrip muscle endurance because that’s a tool that’s used quite often in occupational therapy,” Yates said. “We wanted to kind of investigate those two things together to see how accurately the relationship portrays.”

Yates said presenting this was important because when microvascular oxygenation levels are normally looked at by professionals, it has previously corresponded to cardio-respiratory endurance and the way it’s done is primarily through muscle occlusions. The method she presented posed as an alternative looked more into muscle endurance, and she said she thought this would be beneficial to people with diseases, specifically breast cancer patients that suffer from lymphedema. Yates said that she had some challenges during the research process. 

“With the muscle endurance, our findings ended up not being quite as much as we hoped, but just trying to find another way to do that so it’s applicable with more populations is kind of the big part of the project,” Yates said. “And that was what we aimed for.” 

Exercise science graduate student Jacob Woodrow was also part of the six students that presented an artifact at the ACSM conference. Woodrow studied the differences in fitness testing, training workloads, and playing time among college players. Using the men’s college soccer team, he looked at their heart rate during training by using GPS devices and he was able to measure their distance covered while sprinting, Woodrow said. According to Woodrow, The purpose of this is to make it easier to differentiate players by skill in soccer.

“One of the big things that we found was that the players who were starters typically displayed a higher sprinting ability and better performances in their agility,” Woodrow said. “What we can do with that, or more so what soccer coaches can do with that is they can try to develop this in the preseason so that once their players are in the competition phase, they’re better at these aspects.” 

Yates said that presenting her findings at the conference was helpful to keep the literature up to date and to advance the field of study. The ACSM conference was done virtually this year, on a website called Gatherly that incorporates a more engaging approach to online events. 

“I’d never used it before. It was kind of fascinating. You would have to move your character around to different places to be a part of different talks,” Yates said. “You would click the elevator button and then go up to different floors that had different talks on them. It was an interesting platform. I liked the way it was set up. Obviously it’s different than if the conference was in person, but I think they really made an effort to still have ways that you can connect.” 

According to Yates, during the preparation process she worked closely with Cayot to write a preliminary abstract to get into the conference. She then went back and edited the abstract and went back and forth with Cayot to prepare for what questions she would receive, how to present the data in depth and what to prepare behind the scenes to be successful at the conference. 

Yates said her actual presentation had to be pre-recorded and under five minutes. She then had to send the video to the representatives at the conference and after playing these videos, the representatives of the conference would open up the floor for questions. 

“I think that part was really good because you didn’t have to present everything, that part was already done,” Yates said. “And you just had to know more information about your project so people could ask questions and you could go more in-depth in it. But I think that’s very different than past conferences.”

During the conference, Woodrow said he also faced difficulties with the format being different compared to other presentations he’s done in the past. 

“I think the biggest thing for me was I liked being in person for presentations,” Woodrow said. “So I guess … the fact that it was all virtual and you kind of have to change the way that you do things when you’re virtual, I think that was probably the biggest difficulty for me.”

According to Woodrow, he is passionate about research projects, so having this experience will not only get his foot in the door but give him more experience to work on more research projects in the future. Woodrow said he wants to work with athletes after college and eventually obtain his doctorate and continue doing research. 

According to Yates, during the conference she was partnered with four other students not affiliated with UIndy that were studying the same topic as her. After presenting, she was then asked questions by the committee. Yates said the questions that she got were what brought her to this specific topic and what are the next steps in the process as well as questions about the specific data and results that she found. 

As for the next steps in the process, Yates said that the results didn’t come out the way that she wanted so she is going to take a different approach. 

“We didn’t find a ton of correlation in the hand grip, but I know Dr. Cayot is also looking at knee extension,” Yates said. “We’re going to look at different areas of the body, if there’s any changes. And then we’re going to try to look at populations. So looking at the breast cancer survivors and how we can move this project forward.” 

According to Yates, this experience prepared her to speak at future conferences throughout her academic career. Yates plans to attend graduate school to get her doctorate in occupational therapy to eventually become a practicing therapist.

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