EXSS Undergraduate Students Making an Impact at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research

This week’s EXSS Impact Post highlights the work of those EXSS undergraduate students who are presenting their research at the University’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research this week.  This year we have 9 students who are presenting their work.  This represents the largest number of EXSS students who have presented in a given year.

Below are the abstracts from each of these student’s projects that will be presented at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research on Monday April 18 from 1:15-3:30PM in Frank Porter Graham Student Union, Great Hall.
Symposium Program: http://our.unc.edu/symposia/cur/


concussion-blog-featured-imagePrincipal Investigator: Michelle Kramer

Project Title: Effect of Athletic Headgear on Visual and Sensory Performance

Current helmet testing does not consider implications on ability to see and respond, which is key to reducing injury risk. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of athletic headgear (i.e., helmets) on visual and sensory performance, as measured by scores on the Senaptec Sensory Station. 30 male varsity and club athletes (football, lacrosse, and ice hockey players) will be assessed on visual clarity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, near-far quickness, target capture, perception span, multiple object tracking, eye-hand coordination, go/no go, and hand reaction time via the computer based system under helmeted and unhelmeted conditions. A 2 (helmeted vs. unhelmeted condition) by 3 (football vs. lacrosse vs. ice hockey) mixed-model ANOVA will be performed. The study is intended to prompt discussion regarding helmet designs and functional vision. If a significant difference is found with helmeted vision, this could have implications for helmet safety testing and vision training with helmets. Note: Study is still in progress.

NeuroCom_BalanceMaster_AthletePrincipal Investigator: Destinee Grove

Project Title: Athlete Perceptions of the Concussion Assessment Battery

As the multimodal approach to concussion assessment continues to develop, more time and attention are needed to complete a comprehensive assessment. This study is necessary to understand the recreational athletes’ perceptions of the concussion assessment battery in order to inform use and interpretation of clinical results. All participants (Females=8; Males=5; ages 18-25) completed a comprehensive concussion assessment battery including an assessment of symptoms, neurocognition, visiual/vestibular function, and balance. Participants then completed a battery opinion survey. Descriptive statistics were utilized to describe athlete perceptions. Overall, 69.2% (9/13) agreed that the battery was overall easy and 100% (13/13) agreed/strongly agreed that they tried their best on the battery. Most participants felt that the balance test (76.9%; 10/13) was the most engaging task, while many felt the symptom assessment (30.8%; 4/13) was the least engaging. Three participants stated the battery was “boring”. In addition, 23.1% (3/13) described that the visual-oculomotor task made them dizzy, when interviewed; however, during clinical testing they reported no dizziness. This work highlights areas in the battery where clinicians should be diligent in providing instruction and supervision. Additionally, the data in this ongoing study support the important of clinical interviews in conjunction with the objective measures that are standard to a concussion battery.


Principal Investigator: Katherine Hickert

Project Title: Tinder: Communicating Desirability Online

For many of my friends at college, meeting potential dates has become a new challenge since the dating pool has expanded tremendously and dating behaviors have changed extremely. Many college students have turned to a new dating app called Tinder to meet new people. It is unique because, unlike traditional dating sites that require information about height, weight, financial status, etc., it relies exclusively on photos and short descriptions in order to find a potential date. In order to observe Tinder profiles, I had to create my own Tinder profile. Once my profile was complete, I conducted 100 detailed observations of individual UNC heterosexual male Tinder profiles in which I described all pictures from the different profiles I observed. I noted clothing, setting, facial expressions, presence of other people, and any other miscellaneous factors in order to recognize trends that were existent. Based on my observations, I noted that, through their pictures, many heterosexual male users at UNC choose photos that display attractiveness, sociability, and wealth in order to attract potential female matches.

PEclassPrincipal Investigator: Ashlyn Hill

Project Title: What is at risk for females under current high school physical education policy

Participation in physical activity during adolescence can shape similar habits into adulthood. The overall health benefits of physical activity are well-documented and provide adequate reason for the need to participate in regular physical activity. Particularly for adolescents, time spent at school in physical education (PE) classes is the ideal opportunity to participate. Current physical education policies in high school, however, do not provide a sufficient amount of routine in physical activity. In particular, females in high school, when given the chance to participate, show less motivation to take part in the often competitive activities offered in their PE classes. Little action has been taken to facilitate meaningful participation and lifelong learning opportunities for high school females during PE. Through systematic review of current high school physical education policies, observation of local high school students (Chapel Hill, NC) during PE classes, and critical consideration of alternative solutions/adjustments, this study proposes an inclusive policy change to high school PE in order to increase female participation via motivation and perceived competence levels. Current research indicates females exhibit high levels of discomfort to perform in front of peers and place greater value on relationships and social integration. By better understanding the role of PE in adolescent physical activity, this study provides implication for change at the policy level.

FootballPrincipal Investigator: Rhett Jackson

Project Title: An Assessment of Demand Variables on Division I College Football Series (FBS) Bowl Series Attendance

This past season five new college football bowl games were created despite a decrease in bowl attendance from the previous seasons (Solomon, 2016). With attendance decreasing, bowl organizers have more pressure for creating matchups that will draw crowds and maximize revenue. This paper develops a regression model predicting demand for Division I-A college football post-season bowl games. Ten key predictor variables were identified and collected from all 113 bowl matchups between the 2013-2015 seasons; (a) Average Home Attendance, (b) Average Temperature, (c) Bowl Age, (d) Bowl City Population, Distance, Saragin Power Rankings,Winning Percentage, Local Population of Competing School(s), Previous Five Year Bowl History, and Ticket Price. Utilizing a stepwise entry process, five of the variables produced a statistically significant regression model, which predicted 60.7 percent of the variance in bowl game attendance. The significant variables included: (a) Average Home Attendnace, (b) Bowl Age, (c) Distance, (d) Bowl City Population, and (e) Saragain Power Rankings. All significant coefficients were positive, with the exception of distance travelled, which was negative, as expected. The results of the study can be used to assist bowl game committees in determining the optimal bowl matchups yielding the highest attendance for future bowl games. In fact, the final model was utilized to predict attendance for possible alternative bowl game matchups from the 2015 bowl season.

Soccer-concussionsPrincipal Investigator: Brittany Brauer

Project Title: A comparison of symptoms and mechanism of injury amongst youth with sports-related head injuries

Presentation and outcomes following concussion may be related to various personal and injury-related factors. This study describes clinical presentation at initial evaluation by mechanism of injury category. Patients (n=162) included 8-18 years old presented toing to three private sports medicine practices within three days of a sports-related injury. After consenting, a standardized form including a brief medical history and clinical interview (inclusive of injury characteristics), symptom checklist, visual-vestibular assessment, and neurocognitive testing, and balance screening was completed by a provider during the patient visit. Mechanisms of injury were grouped by contact as: 1) head to head, 2) head to other body part, 3) head to ground, 4) head to structure, 5) object to head, 6) whiplash, 7) multiple hits, 8) unknown/non-specific mechanism, and 9) other. Head to body part (22.9%) and head to ground (27.9%) were the most common mechanisms for concussion. Individuals with an unknown mechanism and object to head mechanism had the lowest symptom severity scores scores at 22.321.1 and 23.519.4 respectively. Individuals with an unknown/non-specific mechanism also had the lowest (better) near point convergence scores (2.8 cm4.6cm). Individuals with a multiple impact mechanism had the worst score (8.5cm9.9cm). Mechanism of injury may play a role in clinical presentation following concussion. Clinicians should be mindful of mechanism when managing concussions in young athletes

wrowingPrincipal Investigator: Victoria McGee

Project Title: The Coach-Athlete Relationship and Athlete Psychological Health Outcomes

Athletes’ relationships with their coaches have important implications for outcomes of psychological health including their burnout and engagement. Further examination of these associations is needed to identify what aspects of athletes’ perceptions of the coach-athlete relationship are linked to their experiences of burnout and engagement. Our study purpose was to examine associations among athlete perceptions of the coach-athlete relationship and burnout and engagement across a competitive season. We hypothesized that athlete endorsement of higher levels of markers of the coach-athlete relationship (closeness, commitment, and complementarity) would be negatively associated with perceptions of burnout and positively associated with perceptions of engagement. Participants were female collegiate rowers (N=37; Mage=19.3 years, SD=1.18) who completed online self-report assessments of study variables across four seasonal survey waves. Participants reported moderate-to-high scores on the coach-athlete relationship, burnout, and engagement variables across all time points. Multilevel linear modeling analyses revealed closeness, one of the coach-athlete relationship markers, to be a significant predictor of global engagement but not global burnout. Commitment and complementarity were not significant predictors of either athlete burnout or engagement. Study results support the predictive impact of athlete perceptions of closeness with their coach to seasonal athlete engagement.

LESSPrincipal Investigator: Hanna Gierman

Project Title: The Relationship Between Lower Extremity Mass Composition and Movement Profile, Loading Symmetry, and Vertical Ground Reaction Force

As age increases, females are at an especially greater risk of succumbing to lower extremity injuries than their male counterparts, as they are 3-4 times more likely to sustain a non-contact ACL tear. ACL tears and other types of lower extremity injuries typically manifest during bouts of intense physical activity, secondary to aberrant biomechanics. Fortunately, risk of injury can be predicted based on the physical demands of the activity as well as the inherent risk of the participant. Lower extremity mass composition and BMI are factors that contribute to biomechanical function and performance. The ratio of fat to muscle can affect individual performance on levels that may include movement profile, loading symmetry, and vertical ground reaction force. It is hypothesized that females with a higher ratio of lower extremity lean muscle to fat mass will demonstrate a reduced risk of ACL injury. Likewise, females with a lower ratio of lower extremity muscle to fat mass will demonstrate an increased risk of ACL injury. The purpose of this study is threefold. One purpose is to determine if there is a difference in lower extremity mass composition between ‘low’ and ‘high’ risk movement profiles. The second purpose is to determine if there is a relationship between lower extremity mass composition and baseline loading patterns during landing. The final purpose is to determine if there is a relationship between lower extremity mass and loading patterns during exercise.

stress-fracture-1-1Principal Investigator: Yana Ginzburg

Project Title: The Influence of Lower Extremity Biomechanics and Body Composition on Lower Extremity Stress Fracture Risk in Division I Cross-Country Athletes

Stress fractures are prevalent among cross-country athletes. This study aims to identify lower extremity biomechanics and body composition characteristics that influence stress fracture risk. 37 collegiate cross-country athletes were tested at preseason. Biomechanical data were obtained through visual observation of overhead and single leg squats. Body composition data were gathered via DEXA scans. Injury data were recorded in an electronic medical record for one year following testing. Chi-square analyses examined biomechanical data, and independent samples t-tests examined body composition data. Females and athletes with a lower BMI are more likely to sustain a stress fracture. Injured leg lean mass was less than leg lean mass of uninjured athletes. The biomechanical assessments were unable to discern between the injured and uninjured groups. Females and athletes with low BMI or small lower extremity lean mass should be monitored so injury prevention interventions may be implemented to mitigate stress fracture risk.