Two fitness and wellness leadership students received top prizes for their submitted research from the Greater New York American College of Sports Medicine virtual conference last semester. SUNY Plattsburgh’s Arriana Patraw and Taylor Alexander won the President’s Cup and Outstanding Case Study, respectively, beating top schools like Harvard, Columbia and Hofstra.
Patraw, a junior from Clear Lake, won $1,200 for her original research on “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Can Optimism Reduce Anxiety? A Five-Wave Study of People with Chronic Illness” and secured a spot at the June 2021 national conference to represent the Greater New York chapter. Alexander, a senior from Cadyville, won $500 for her clinical case study of a rare foot injury – the Lisfranc injury.
“I was definitely nervous to present, especially because I struggle with my own anxiety,” Patraw said. “However, it was a really great experience and I was just really honored to be able to present it at all.”
Patraw’s research began Sept. 2019 alongside SUNY Plattsburgh associate professor of sport and wellness, Andreas Stamatis, while collaborating with institutions like Harvard and Baylor. Her research collected five waves of pooling information from participants. A five-wave study is rare, since it required Patraw to return back to the same participants month after month. “Repeated measures always add power along with the variant of the pandemic,” Stamatis said. Three pools were collected prior to the pandemic and two were collected during, which helped make her findings relevant for present-day practitioners. According to Patraw, Stamatis played a big role in helping her collect and test her data.
“It’s really important to know that as reported levels of optimism increase, reported levels of anxiety decrease and then that relationship is stable throughout the pandemic,” Patraw said. “So if we can increase levels of optimism, we are able to decrease the levels of anxiety, particularly in populations living with chronic illnesses and disabilities.”
Unlike Patraw’s large pool study, Alexander focused on one rare foot injury – the Lisfranc injury, which is a widening between the first and second metatarsal and commonly misdiagnosed. She collaborated with SUNY Plattsburgh and hospitals in Greece, where Stamatis is from, to better understand how to properly diagnose someone with a Lisfranc injury.
“They misdiagnosed the injury at first and the injury needs correctional surgery, so if it doesn’t happen soon enough then the patient can live with those side effects for the rest of their lives,” Alexander said. “I’m an incoming health professional, so I want to make sure that this injury doesn’t go unseen and it can be corrected as soon as possible.”
As someone with tendonitis in her feet, Alexander took the case “to heart.” A Lisfranc injury shows up with a weight bearing x-ray, which means any regular X-ray or CT scan won’t notice it. According to Stamatis, clinical cases have no power due to the small pool size, but they are significant for special cases, such as a lisfranc injury, and what clinicians may miss.
“I knew [Taylor] was very good and had a very good case study and I just told her it’s up to you now you need to practice, practice, practice and know what you’re talking about,” Stamatis said. “She looked very confident in the video to explain everything. I thought we’d win, and I said the same thing to Arriana. I sent her a lot of emails telling Arriana, because I know sometimes she becomes a little more anxious about things. But, I’m really proud of them, they deserve it.”
The annual conference was unable to meet in person due to the pandemic, however, it didn’t stop the SUNY Plattsburgh fitness and wellness leadership department from submitting a record number of 15 abstracts, according to Stamatis. Participants were required to create a 5-minute video presentation and poster about their research, as well as, present their findings to a panel over a Zoom call.
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