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CMU students investigate effectiveness of elevation in injury healing process

Athletic training students' research transforms age-old practices

Contact: Curt Smith


​​The rest, ice, compress, elevate and stabilize technique, or RICES, has long been standard treatment for anyone who has experienced an orthopedic injury. Two Central Michigan University students examined aspects of this protocol, finding some parts more crucial than others – if they’re even needed at all.

Athletic training seniors Jon Burke and Austin Herman discovered level of elevation does not influence skin temperature cooling – concluding that elevation, when combined with compression, may not be necessary in acute care injury management of orthopedic conditions.

In their research, which is helping to further the evolution of health care, the students investigated if the angle of elevation, from zero to 90 degrees, has any influence on the cooling effect of ice on skin during and following application.

“Our research included the common treatment RICES that many medical professionals know and utilize with individuals who may have suffered an acute injury from sport, recreation, etc.,” Burke, a South Lyon native said. “We compared the efficiency of the cooling from ice at varied degrees.”

Burke and Herman received multiple grants and awards, and have presented at different expositions. With the research complete, their next goal is to submit the study for publication.

Blaine Long, assistant professor of athletic training, mentored the students throughout the process. He said the research is not only beneficial for the athletic training field but also for the students’ futures.

“The big thing we want for our students is, when they’re treating patients in any health care facility, to ensure that they are providing the best available treatment,” Long said.

Burke and Herman hope their work will inspire other students to take their studies to the next level. From furthering their education to realizing they want to continue conducting research as professionals, this project has prepared the two in a variety of ways.

“The project was not only illuminating for our career paths, but it taught us patience, time management and communication skills – things we will continue using in our professional careers,” Herman, a Union City native said. “We hope other students in the athletic training program will take advantage of opportunities like this.”

Athletic training students win big with their research

The research conducted by Burke and Herman is helping to transform health care practices – and they have the awards, grants and presentations to prove it.

“What these students have done is unprecedented – I’ve never seen anything like it with the number of awards they won,” Long said. “This experience is going to set them up for bettering themselves in the future.”

Herman and Burke have been recognized for their work through the following presentations and awards:

  • ​​2015 National Athletic Trainers’ Association Free Communication Presentation
  • 2015 Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition
  • Capital Scholars Presentation DayUndergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Grant
  • Undergraduate Provost Research Award
  • ORSP Undergraduate Presentation Grant
  • DeLoss Brubaker Undergraduate Student Writing Contest (Best Original Research), a national writing competition


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