MVS Junior Presents at ORS Annual Meeting

3/1/13

Movement Science Undergraduate Shannon Pomeroy Showcases Innovation at Orthopaedic Annual Meeting

The Orthopaedic Research Society’s (ORS) Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of orthopaedic surgeons and researchers in the country each year, and a leading forum for the dissemination of new musculoskeletal research findings.

The 2013 Meeting included a scientific program, general sessions, poster walking tours, workshops and mentoring -- and U-M Kinesiology’s own Shannon Pomeroy was invited to present new key orthopaedic research findings on behalf of the School.

This was something very special for the Movement Science junior.

Falling in love with research

Pomeroy came to the School of Kinesiology because she wanted to become a physical therapist. She quickly realized her path was changing when her love of physics and anatomy came together in a biomechanics class. “I started to do research and I fell in love with doing research, and even though you are doing the same processing, you get different results every single time and I found this very interesting,” said Pomeroy.

Her newfound passion for research didn’t go unnoticed by Scott McLean Ph.D., assistant professor of Movement Science, who helped land her work in his Human Performance Innovation Laboratory (HPIL). Pomeroy remembers how it was a natural progression to work in the lab through conversations with Dr. McLean in- and outside of her biomechanics class. She felt especially lucky because she had no idea working in a lab was even possible for an undergraduate student.

Presenting her work

At the conference Pomeroy, along with McLean and Grant C. Goulet Ph.D., presented her work on female moment arm variations throughout puberty and their effect on the ACL injury mechanism.

Pomeroy explained, “In the HPIL we are working on a very large study on maturation and morphology for females nine to 17 years old. We place participants in groups according to maturity and review various factors pertaining to their joint anatomies and biomechanics.”

The research participants came for 1.5 hours of motion capture analysis which included jumping, standing, and balancing in order to obtain kinematic data. Participants also came in for a one hour MRI session, which produced complex 3-D images used for Pomeroy’s measurement and analysis.

Pomeroy zoned in on moment arms of the key muscle groups (quadriceps and hamstrings) that stabilize the knee and examined how they changed throughout maturation.

At ORS, she walked a crowded room full of orthopaedic surgeons and researchers through her processes for taking measurements of the quadricep tendon moment arm, patella tendon moment arm, and the hamstring moment arm (taking ratios of the anterior to the posterior of each). She then explained how she discovered there were different ratios between these parameters, which decreased with maturity.

 “The results were interesting because we assume these ratios are the same, so that as the muscles get stronger with maturation the knee will remain stable, which was not the case in my research findings,” said Pomeroy.

These findings may indicate that as females mature, they are developing moment arm imbalances across the knee joint, which predisposes them to a greater risk of suboptimal neuromuscular stabilization. The net result, particularly during highly dynamic (e.g., landing) movements, may be extreme and potentially debilitative ACL loads.

Experience of a lifetime

For Pomeroy the conference and preparation was an experience of a lifetime and valuable preparation for her aspirations to continue on to graduate school. “The conference was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I will never forget it as my first. Although parts of the conference were intimidating, I was able to meet some impressive individuals in the field of biomechanics.

“Presenting in front of such a large group of people, most of whom have been involved in research longer than I have been alive, may seem terrifying, but the feeling I had afterward absolutely solidified what I want to do in the future.

“After such an experience I feel as though I have exponentially increased the amount of confidence I have in my schooling, research, and just the overall path I am taking in my life.”

Williams, Davidson also present

Two other students working with Drs. McLean and Goulet also presented at the conference:

  • Caitlin Williams, LS&A senior, on “Maturation-induced modications in ‘nonmodiable’ joint morphologic ACL injury predictors”; and
  • Recent alumnus Steve Davidson, in a poster session, on “Maturational Contributions to Comparative Lower Limb Muscle Volumes: Implications for Knee Joint Injury”

Professor McLean reflected, “Each student was absolutely outstanding and did a fantastic job in representing the Lab and School. They were incredibly professional in every aspect of their conference efforts, both during their presentations and interacting with colleagues. I am so proud and cannot emphasize enough what a tremendous job they did in having the School of Kinesiology at Michigan stand head and shoulders above all other programs because of their efforts.”

Pomeroy said that overall, going to the conference was an experience that she cannot imagine being surpassed, and she cannot wait to go to her next conference this summer. “I definitely wouldn't have been able to experience all of what I did without the continuous support of Drs. McLean and Goulet. I cannot thank them enough.”