Applied Clinical Research Experiences

The Institute for Human Health and Sport Science Research at High Point University is a collaboration of faculty, clinicians, and students from multiple disciplines dedicated to injury prevention, rehabilitation, and the improved performance of active people.  The mission of the Institute is to promote clinically driven research and quality education that bridges scientific inquiry and clinical practice. This is accomplished through an interdisciplinary approach to research and education that attracts and integrates students, faculty and clinicians from diverse professional backgrounds, experiences, and scientific perspectives in the degree programs in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Physical Therapy and the proposed Doctor of Physical Therapy program.  With a primary focus on injury risk and prevention, the Institute fosters a collaborative environment to support both faculty and student initiated activities that strive to reduce injury risk and improve the health and performance of physically active individuals of all ages.

As part of the Institute for Human Health and Sport Science Research, the Athletic Training Department has initiated a student research program that offers students enrolled in the Athletic Training Education Program at High Point University the opportunity to participate in an intensive research experience, mentored by faculty members. The purpose of this program is to encourage the development of research skills that are useful in answering clinical questions that guide professional practice and improve patient outcomes.
Through this program, students are mentored in the areas of research design, review of the current literature, data collection and analysis, and interpretation of data.\xa0 Development of appropriate writing skills, through collaborative scientific abstract and manuscript preparation, will provide a critical component to the students’ professional growth, and their preparation as scholarly clinicians. Our expectation is that this program will create an inviting environment for students to develop research skills that will inform their clinical reasoning and positively impact patient care.

Why should I participate in the student research program?

Students participating in applied clinical research will develop effective critical thinking and problem solving skills that are needed to be competent and successful athletic training professionals and will be optimally positioned for career success.

Evidence-based medicine, where clinical judgments should be based on the best available research, is a concept that is emphasized in the practice of athletic training. It is necessary that athletic training professionals practice this concept for continued development of the profession and to gain scientific support for athletic training methods. Practicing evidenced based medicine requires clinicians to find the evidence and analyze the quality of that evidence provided in the scientific literature. This process involves:

  1. defining clinically relevant questions
  2. searching for the best evidence
  3. critically appraising the evidence
  4. applying the evidence, and
  5. critical thinking to evaluate the process.

These necessary skills of interpretation and application of scientific findings will be learned and reinforced through the experiences in the undergraduate research program, allowing students to practice evidence-based medicine as professionals. The main purpose is to educate athletic training students giving them the tools to continue to learn, be successful in the profession, and continue to contribute to the development of the profession.

For most students in athletic training, hands-on experiences provide the best learning tools (Mensch and Ennis 2002) which will be the emphasis of the research experience. The mentoring process provides the student with the ability to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world questions. In most cases, engaging in research is an introduction to research for the student. However, the potential to make significant contributions to the mentors’ ongoing work and possibly becoming co-authors of articles in the refereed literature will be encouraged. Students will become members of the community of researchers and scholars as they collaborate with faculty and graduate mentors.

Through the structure and approach of the student research program, additional benefits to the student include:

  • increased student interest in the discipline
  • readiness for more demanding research and professional careers in athletic training
  • clarification, confirmation, and refinement career/education paths
  • increased research and lab techniques
  • collaborative work that increases communication and leadership skills
  • gain of critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • increased application of knowledge and interpretation of literature
  • increased understanding of the research process
  • increased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • transition from a passive learner to an active learner
  • increased independence in decision making and responsibility
  • development of a working relationship with mentors and peers
  • discovering the link between theory and practice
  • increased tolerance for frustrations and development of strategies to overcome obstacles
  • ultimately prepare students for future careers as athletic training professionals

How do I get involved in the student research program?

Students interested in participating in the student research program should contact any faculty member in the Department of Athletic Training to discuss potential research opportunities.

The faculty members overseeing the program have a strong record of mentoring graduate and undergraduate student research. The faculty has an established record of research focused on understanding and developing effective strategies toward improving athletic training education and clinical practice. In addition, the faculty have established a record of research investigating factors that influence lower extremity function and injury risk and are active members of the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Research Laboratory, which serves as the primary research facility for the Institute for Human Health and Sport Science Research at High Point University.

The current areas of research include (refer to faculty web pages for more information on areas of specific research):
  • Identifying anatomical, biomechanical, and neuromuscular factors that increase the risk of lower extremity athletic injuries in adolescent athletes.