By Kate Hunger
Five students from the Department of Physical Therapy presented research projects at the American Physical Therapy Association 2020 Combined Sections Meeting held in Denver in February.
Second-year doctor of physical therapy students Cat Lira and Helen Valentine Fleck gave a platform presentation on their investigation to characterize the cardiometabolic profile of more than 5,000 South Texas patients living with HIV and their risk of metabolic syndrome. The students used an online database.
“With PT it would be so much easier for us and for the patients if we could prehab them before we have to rehab them, to educate them and work with them while they are still feeling alright,” Fleck said, noting that patients living with HIV are at an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
The experience of attending and presenting at a national conference was “monumental,” said Fleck, a former dancer and dance teacher who chose a career in physical therapy to satisfy her love of movement while helping others.
“I’m still getting to move and getting to help other people to move,” she says. “If they can’t walk down the sidewalk with their husband in the evening or bend down to pick up their grandchild, it’s just as important as a plié to these people. It’s just as important if not more than working with dancers.
Third-year doctor of physical therapy students Juan Robledo, Lisa Le, and Kalie Pietch presented a poster detailing the findings of their study of time spent standing and sitting as predictors of body composition of older adults.
“We were essentially looking at whether the levels of activity in older adults were related to their overall body composition,” Robledo said.
The group analyzed data from The National Cancer Institute on 1,000 subjects. Although preliminary findings on 300 study subjects indicated that more time spent standing and walking correlated with lower BMI, the larger analysis of 1,000 subjects revealed no statistical significance between those who took more steps than those who didn’t, Robledo said.
Robledo relished the opportunity to attend the conference.
“It was always a goal for me to attend before graduating,” Robledo said. “It was good to see students from all over the country, not only students presenting but also those who have the same aspirations I have to learn about the field.”