First Annual Jacquelin Perry Research Day

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On a recent sunny afternoon, the faculty and students from the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy stepped out of their clinics and their classrooms to celebrate the breadth and depth of the research that is being conducted in the Division’s laboratories and clinics.

Dr. James Gordon, chair of the Division, asked the faculty and students who gathered on the Broad Lawn of the Health Sciences Campus, to absorb the information being presented because their colleagues’ research may help them in their own work, both in the classroom and with their patients. 

Gordon also pointed out that research is a key component of the work being carried out in the Division. “The core mission of our Division is to enhance the physical well-being and quality of life of humans,” said Gordon. “One of the primary ways that we accomplish this is to conduct research that will expand our knowledge of the biological bases of human movement.”

The faculty and students presented either completed or ongoing research projects, 34 in total, that showcased just how broad the range is of subject areas that are of interest to professionals in the area of physical therapy.

Some of the research focused on infants and children, while other projects considered challenges unique to adults. Several of the research projects considered challenges that would most likely be faced by athletes, such as one that looked at the potential for injury from barefoot running, and two others that studied different aspects of posture while running.

Much of the research also looked at understanding best practices and creating potential solutions for working with people with serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease or prostate cancer or are recovering from stroke. One of the projects sought to produce a new type of game that might encourage autistic children, who often have motor deficits, to jump. Other researcher honed in on a certain part of the body, such as shoulders, knees or the lower back, where their patients often experience chronic pain.

Six of the projects were selected as finalists for the top poster presentation and, at the end of the day, Jennifer Bagwell was named the winner of the most outstanding poster award. Bagwell’s research was on the Fulkerson procedure, a surgical procedure for patients with chronic knee pain or who experience recurrent dislocation. Her study concluded that the success of the Fulkerson procedure appears to reduce stress in knee cartilage in many patients, which may explain why it is successful.

The Division’s research presentation day, held April 11, was recently renamed after Dr. Jacquelin Perry, a former faculty member who passed away in March. Perry was a groundbreaking clinician and researcher in the fields of orthopedic surgery and physical therapy who was a USC faculty member in Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy from 1977 to 1991.

Perry was a pioneer in treating post-polio patients and her research on gait analysis remains among the best-known in the field of physical therapy. Research day now bears her name for her commitment to continuously improving the practice of medicine and physical therapy through research.