AHPRC SURF Award Winners

Awarded Project #1

PI: Dr. Jacob Rammer, Assistant Professor, Opus College of Engineering

Student Fellow: Syed Hussain, 4th year student

Project Description: Athletic manual wheelchair users participate in adaptive sports and recreational programs, and these programs are often recommended by clinicians to supplement rehabilitative outcomes. Manual wheelchair use, however, involves substantial risk of injury, particularly to the shoulder, and it is possible that this effect is amplified under the unique stresses of adaptive sports. Further, athletes, coaches, and trainers are interested in new techniques to train for the unique requirements of wheelchair-based adaptive sports. Current literature has yet to provide a simplified, yet effective, method to analyze and train athletic wheelchair propulsion technique and biomechanics for adaptive sports participants.

The purpose of this 10-week project is to assess key metrics of performance of athletic manual wheelchair users in MU’s AHPRC. This will be completed by:

(1) developing a motion capture testing protocol to assess function of athletic manual wheelchair users through the AHPRC's new SIMI markerless motion capture system; and

(2) characterizing manual wheelchair propulsion in a sample population of wheelchair athletes participating in adaptive sports activities (most likely, wheelchair lacrosse). This characterization will include propulsion strategy and upper extremity kinematics.

It is expected that this project will lead to both a better understanding of athletic wheelchair propulsion as well as a standardized protocol for testing that can be used into the future for performance assessment of wheelchair users in the AHPRC.

Awarded Project #2

PIs:     Dr. Norah Johnson, Associate Professor, College of Nursing

            Dr. Abir Bekhet, Associate Professor, College of Nursing

Co-PI: Dr. Alexander Ng, Associate Professor, College of Health Sciences

Project Description: As part of a larger research project (Development of an effective fitness intervention for caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder), the aim of this interdisciplinary study is to:

(1) Pilot test an exercise program for 5-10 parents of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

(2) Assess for trends in changes and relationships in biological and psychological constructs.


(1) We will complete an amendment to a current IRB approved study (where we are assessing baseline measures of physical and psychological health of 50 parents of persons with ASD).

(2) An acceptable, feasible, and safe exercise program will be delivered by June Wang under the mentorship of Alex Ng, a Co Investigator in the larger study. We will implement the exercise program in the gym area of the AHPRC. There will be a strengthening component and an aerobic component to be developed based on the baseline fitness and the feedback of the caregivers during the focus group of the present study that is in data collection. We anticipate holding this 8-week long program (meets 3 times a week) with pre and post physiological measures for 5-10 people.  Other students from Dr. Ng's laboratory may also assist Ms Wang at the AHPRC depending on subject scheduling and need.