In 2015, as a second year student at LSBU, Michael won a highly competitive vacation studentship from The Physiological Society to conduct a research project during the summer break entitled: ‘The effects of age on centre of pressure (COP) progression characteristics during walking’. The investigations took place at LSBU’s state-of-the-art Sport Science Laboratory and set out to understand when age-related differences in walking mechanics begin.
“For too long, literature on this topic has simply made the comparisons between young and elderly people, without consideration for the onset of walking pattern changes. Knowing this would enable provision for interventions to offset the deterioration in walking mechanics. This was our motivation for the study.”
The research, started by LSBU’s alumni Tamara Ebi-George for her final year project, and strengthened by Michael’s involvement, recruited 147 volunteers aged between 18 and 84 with the help from local charity Silverfit. Each participant was asked to walk over a 2m pressure platform and their respective foot roll-over pattern was measured. The tests found that walking mechanics start to exhibit significant changes at an age as early as 30 years old.
These findings highlight the need for engaging in physical activity and exercise for muscle strengthening and balance, much earlier than previously thought, to prevent development of gait deficits with advancing age.
Michael’s report on the project was awarded with the Rob Clarke Abstract Award, which recognises the research work carried out by undergraduate students, and entered into the competition with other nominated undergraduate projects from across the UK and the United States for the Gold Certificate of Achievement. At the meeting in Dublin each of the 19 students exhibited a poster presenting their project and defended their work orally to a scientific panel of leading physiologists.
Michael Attwaters said:
“It was a great pleasure to present my research at Physiology 2016 and I am honoured to receive such a prestigious award. This project has been an invaluable learning experience and my gratitude extends to my supervisors: Dr Darren James and Dr Katya Mileva for their enthusiastic input and guidance throughout the entire process.”
“Each academic year, through their research and collaborations with external professional, public and educational organisations, the academics from the SESRC create invaluable extracurricular opportunities for our undergraduate and postgraduate students by securing scholarships, internships and work placements. These experiences empower the students with essential skills and competences for successful future careers and build the next generation of scientists.”
LSBU attendance at the conference wouldn't have been possible without the financial support from the Health and Wellbeing Institute (HWI) at LSBU. The Head of HWI, Peter Benson said:
“Congratulations to Michael on his award. I’m delighted that LSBU’s Health and Wellbeing Institute could support Michael and the Sport and Exercise Science Research Centre team with this opportunity, to help them engage with leading researchers and professionals within the field, and have their great work recognised.”