Monday, 30 January 2017

Scholarship gives chance to experience sports medicine

With a history of playing competitive softball, Singapore-born medical student Nina Chua knows too well about sports injuries. “I did a lot of training and as a result had an overuse injury.” So while she visited a sports doctor and physiotherapists during rehabilitation, she did a lot of research. The more she read, the more interested she became in sports medicine.

Nina Chua and Dr Naj Soomro
It’s a very small field and the medicine program doesn’t give students any exposure to sports medicine during their clinical training years. So a summer research scholarship in sports medicine in Mildura offered an opportunity to gain some experience. Nina had been to Monash Rural Health in Mildura during her Year 2 rural placement. “That’s why I was comfortable coming here.”

For two weeks she’s been working on a project with Dr Naj Soomro which explore injury prevention training for fast bowlers in cricket. “I’ve never played cricket, I only learned the rules this week,” she laughed. But she figured it was similar to softball and baseball and was keen to take it on.

The project involved writing a research protocol for an evidence-based cricket-specific injury prevention program, which she and Dr Soomro hope to submit in the Journal of Physiotherapy. During this process she has learnt how to design of a cluster randomised control trial.

The injury prevention program is still under development. Among the first “guinea pigs” were Nina, Dr Soomro and one of the Mildura staff members. “We trialled the program in the hallway which was quite hilarious,” she said. That resulted in some modifications to the program before they took it to weekly training for the cricket team that Dr Soomro plays for. The team’s feedback resulted in further modifications and the altered program will go back to their next training session.

Dr Soomro is a keen advocate of the use of technology in research and plans to develop a website similar to FIFA’s online warm-up program for soccer players. That’s outside the scope of Nina’s two weeks in Mildura, but she’s keen to continue her involvement. This year will be a major one for Nina. She begins her clinical training back in Melbourne and also plays on the Monash baseball team. Squeezing research work into that requires a big commitment. “I’m interested in this and I like it, so it will be fine,” she said confidently. “And I might try out some of this on the baseball team too.”

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