Senior Takes First Place at Conference for Ground-Breaking Sports Medicine Research
A SUNY Plattsburgh fitness and wellness leadership major’s research project into shoulder injuries may mean the difference between an athlete being able to return to play or being benched.
Senior fitness and wellness leadership major Nick Dvorscak of Rexford, N.Y., was one of six SUNY Plattsburgh students from fitness and wellness leadership and expeditionary studies to compete at the Greater New York American College of Sorts Medicine Fall Conference in New York City recently. His research, a look at rotator cuff injuries in elite professional volleyball players, won first place, taking out competition from schools like Columbia University and Manhattan College.
Dvorscak’s project was inter-departmental and international in scope, involving the college’s fitness and wellness leadership and athletic training departments, two hospitals in Greece, and Athens Medical School. With their assistance, he was able to study 56 professional volleyball athletes, all of whom were experiencing either rotator cuff or glenoid labral lesion injuries, and all of whom had what is called subscapular nerve entrapment.
“SSN is caused by the consistent repetitive internal rotation of the shoulder — think spiking a volleyball,” he said. “This causes the SSN to become compressed in the subscapular notch.”
Research ‘So Unique’
This painful injury limits an athlete’s range of motion and could potentially end a career. Dvorscak said this is “what makes our research so unique.”
“We divided these 56 athletes into two groups. Group 1 choose to undergo shoulder arthroscopy combined with SSN release; Group 2 chose to undergo only shoulder arthroscopy without SSN release,” he said. “Our results indicated a much lower pain tolerance over a three-to-five-year period in the group that chose SSN release with shoulder arthroscopy as well as a 97 percent return to play in this group.
“This is incredible for volleyball players because what was once considered a career-ending injury is now not a career-ending injury,” Dvorscak said.
What this research means academically is that Dvorscak was involved in international research at an undergraduate level; what it means to the sports world is that he and his research partners found a way to potentially help thousands of future athletes who want a better chance to return to play.
And that is the purpose of having students attend a conference such as the American College of Sports Medicine’s fall event, said Dr. Andreas Stamatis, associate professor and undergraduate program coordinator in exercise and nutrition sciences.
The purpose of the conference “is to advance and integrate scientific research and to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine,” he said. The conference includes presentations with guest speakers of which Stamatis was a part, and the President’s Cup for which students, like Dvorscak, compete. Students in this chapter competition include schools in New York and New Jersey.
‘So Many Benefits’
“There are so many benefits for students to attend these events,” Stamatis said. They have opportunities to network with colleges for grad school or businesses for students who want to enter the workforce, he said. It also instills responsibility, builds resumes and helps address insecurities over public speaking.
“I always tell them to enjoy it because it will probably be one of the most intense experiences they’ll have in their bachelor’s program whether they understand that now or later. This kind of event changes them in many aspects: occupationally, socially, emotionally and intellectually,” Stamatis said.
As for Dvorscak’s research, Stamatis said it was exceptional.
“His project is significant not only for the actual practical implications, but also because of the scarcity of this kind of research,” he said. “It is extremely difficult to get access to data of so many players and of that elite level.” And then there’s the involvement with two Greek hospitals and medical school as well as the SUNY Plattsburgh cross-departmental collaboration, he said.
As the winner of the Greater New York American College of Sports Medicine chapter competition, Dvorscak heads to San Diego in June to compete against winners from the other 11 chapters across the country. Stamatis tipped his hat not only to Dvorscak but also to his teammates:
- Janyll Barber, senior fitness and wellness leadership major from Dannemora, N.Y.
- Madison Lecher, senior fitness and wellness leadership major from Marcy, N.Y.
- Wheels Pelton, junior expeditionary studies major from Chazy, N.Y.
- Liam Raaen, senior fitness and wellness leadership major from Twee Heads, Australia
- Dylan Reilly, senior fitness and wellness leadership major from Lawrence, N.Y.
“These students having had this experience filled my heart,” Stamatis said. “Everybody at the conference was impressed by how professional and respectful they were.”
Stamatis also gave a shout-out to College Auxiliary Services for helping to fund the experience and to faculty and staff who helped make this experience possible:
- Rebecca Barnes, administrative assistant I in exercise and nutrition science
- Jorunn Gran-Henriksen, associate professor and chair, exercise and nutrition science
- Melissa LaMere, director of recreation sports and associate athletic director
- Steven Maynard, associate professor, expeditionary studies
- Jason Pachter, director of sports medicine
- Chris Taylor, head men’s soccer coach
- Denise Simard, dean, education, health and human services
- Lisa Vicencio, associate athletic trainer
For his part, Dvorscak gave a shout-outs to Stamatis and fitness and wellness leadership and athletic training faculty for “going above and beyond.”
“The faculty get to know every one of the students very well,” he said. “They go above and beyond to help us learn and grow daily. (Stamatis) and other members of the SUNY Plattsburgh family have given so much support not just to me but the other members of the program and my peers who I went with to New York City.
“The faculty here is wonderful and the relationships I have created with them will last a lifetime, and I am forever grateful for attending such a wonderful school where the faculty goes above and beyond for their students.”
For more information, contact Stamatis at 518-564-4337 or email [email protected] or visit https://www.plattsburgh.edu/programs/fitness-and-wellness-leadership-major.html.