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LETU Students Present Wheelchair Research at Sports Medicine Conference


LeTourneau University's Wheels senior design team recently traveled to Austin to present student research at the annual meeting of the Texas chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (TACSM).
The Wheels team presented research from their "on-campus" wheelchair studies that they had been working on from September 2012 until February 2013, under the direction of their faculty adviser, assistant professor of biology Karen Rispin.
TACSM is an academic conference where faculty, physicians, post-docs, graduate students and undergraduate students from many Texas universities present research to do with human performance. The Wheels research on the impact of wheelchair design on the mobility of wheelchair users is a good fit. The Wheels team work showcased the high academic standards at LeTourneau University Nearly 500 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level students, attended the event.
LETU Wheels team members who presented their wheelchair research at the TACSM conference were junior biology major Anna McDonnel of Katy, Texas; senior kinesiology major Nicole Leman of Anchorage, Alaska; freshman biology major Matt Sturm from Ethiopia; junior biology major Josh VanLeer of Danville, Ill.; senior biology major Nate Lowe of Houston, Texas; and freshman biology major Emily Tutt of Austin Texas.

All Wheels members showcased the measured results of wheelchair subjects (fellow students on campus) pushing two types of wheelchairs around on marked courses using the Motivation "Rough Terrain" wheelchair and the Whirlwind "Rough Rider" wheelchair.

The team split into three groups to write their abstracts and create posters for presentation at the conference.
The group of McDonnel and Tutt presented a poster comparing the energy cost of pushing the two types of wheelchairs in tight spaces and up and down a curb.

The group of VanLeer and Sturn presented a poster on the effects of having two different axle positions on the wheelchairs on its pushing efficiency.

The group of Leman and Lowe created a poster comparing the energy cost of pushing both types of wheelchairs on rough and smooth ground.

Students submitted an article beforehand and once at the conference, presented their poster in front of a live panel of judges, who stopped at each poster, asking questions of the student researchers and rating the posters in terms of the quality of their research presented.

The students also sat in on seminars, where graduate-level students presented their research on such topics as nutrition and obesity among young children. Other seminars included a student bowl competition, like the television game 'Jeopardy,' where they asked questions about exercise science.

LETU's Wheels team benefited from the hands-on experience of presenting research in front of professionals of exercise and health, Rispin said. She added that each team's written abstract was published in the International Journal of Exercise Science and are available in full text online.

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