Students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Nursing programs shared their research at the annual forum at McKinnon Hall inside the Moseley Center on Tuesday.
Sporting a pair of black virtual reality goggles, physical therapy doctoral student Alex Japit G’24 shared how the research he is conducting with fellow DPT students Chris Go, Matthew Lawler and Alicia Wilson will investigate the crossing of barriers for seniors using virtual and mixed realities on Tuesday at McKinnon Hall.
The glasses displayed a virtual obstacle projected onto the real environment. The team’s research challenged people to climb a virtual obstacle about 15 inches tall, the average distance to get on a bus. Findings collected from research participants gave the team insight into compensatory strategies used by older adults and how to use mixed reality in low-stakes physical therapy.
“With virtual reality and mixed reality, we’re trying to incorporate that into physical therapy as a way for someone to improve their gait training and then get into physical reality because it’s less risky,” Wilson said.
Theirs was one of several innovative projects focused on improving the world showcased Tuesday at the fourth annual Global Engagement and Research Forum hosted by Elon University’s School of Health Sciences. Dozens of future physician assistants, physical therapists and nurses presented their research on a variety of topics.
The forum was an opportunity to showcase the results of collaborations on Elon’s campus, as well as the valuable experiences students have gained from studying abroad.
Johanna Dauray G’23 will receive her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies on Friday, December 9 at Commencement School of Health Sciences. Before graduating as a childminder to Elon, Dauray spent a year working in a Rhode Island maximum-security prison, where she learned about the state drug program for addiction treatment. During her work at the prison, she realized that Rhode Island was the only state that offered inmates with opioid use disorder three FDA-approved treatment options – methadone, Suboxone and depot naltrexone. Rhode Island inmates also have access to psychiatrists and Narcotics Anonymous.
Thanks in part to this treatment, the state of Rhode Island has seen a 60.5% reduction in opioid-related deaths after incarceration as well as a decrease in re-incarcerations. Dauray explained why this treatment should be implemented nationwide to help provide rehabilitation for those in need.
“There is no evidence against it,” she said. “This treatment gives people hope. I’m very passionate about them getting this drug because not everyone in prison is bad many are there for drug related crimes…and it’s a good bridge to help them get the life they deserve.
Niamh Sutherburg’s research focused on whether community doula organizations could play a major role in alleviating pregnancy and birth disparities for Black women in the United States by improving prenatal care. .
Sutherburg, a member of the Physician Assistant Study Class of 2023, has found that women have more confidence and feel more respected by their OBGYN and the birthing process as a whole when accompanied by a doula. . Sutherburg entered Elon’s PA program with a heightened interest in women’s health and, during her clinical rotations, noticed a significant lack of diversity.
“I recognize my pitfalls as a white woman entering this field. So for my patients these services are offered and for them they feel more respected, it’s a win-win situation for everyone,” Sutherburg said. “The push with this research is trying to get Medicare to start covering services a bit more and hopefully that can promote more equity and reduce some of the health disparities.”
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