Health Sciences researchers collaborate with visiting professor from Spain

Ester Cerezo Telez spent the summer lending her expertise to kinesiology research; more collaborative studies are planned

The University of Rhode Island College of Health Sciences has expanded its outreach and research collaborations with international universities, hosting a physiotherapy professor from Madrid, Spain, who lent her expertise to several ongoing studies in the College during her time at URI over the summer.

Ester Cerezo Telez, a professor at Universidad de Alcala in Madrid, and a practicing physical therapist, spent the summer working with Kinesiology Professors Christie Ward-Ritacco and Susan D’Andrea. She consulted on many of the projects going on in the kinesiology lab, conducting initial baseline testing for a women’s exercise study; doing pilot testing for a study that compares metabolic requirements of cycling using a traditional recumbent cycle compared to a motorized bicycle; and assisting with research into virtual reality rehabilitation for stroke victims.

“Ester really worked very hard all summer long,” Ward-Ritaco said. “She helped with data collection; she consulted on all the pilot studies we have going on; she offered lots of insight from her own studies. She could not be a nicer, more pleasant, harder working individual. This is the start of a personal and professional relationship that just feels meant to be.”

The collaboration goes both ways, as D’Andrea and Ward-Ritaco are also working with Cerezo Telez on her own research into ways kinesiology and physical therapy techniques can be used among multiple clinical populations. A women’s health expert, Cerezo Telez is particularly interested in applying them to her study on urinary incontinence and sexual disfunction. Given the hesitancy some patients may have in discussing such sensitive topics, they often don’t learn about the physical therapy techniques that can help their situation.

To help combat that reticence, Ward-Ritaco is expanding on a survey study Cerezo Telez has initiated in Spain. They plan to send out a large-scale survey to men and women, trying to estimate the prevalence of urinary incontinence and sexual disfunction among adults here, compared to people in Spain.

“The work is showing that urinary incontinence and sexual disfunction is much more widespread than we thought, and it’s effecting a greater number of clinical populations,” Ward-Ritaco said. “She’s trying to show the need for more intensive care around these issues for anyone who needs it. It’s not just a female issue.”

Some of the URI projects Cerezo Telez coordinated on include:

  • VR rehab for stroke victims. D’Adrea’s study, funded by the RI Foundation, examines the use of virtual reality rehabilitation for stroke patients. Participants have an avatar of themselves on the screen that can can watch while performing training exercises in attempts to improve their gait and walking patterns. The study also examines the use of transcranial direct current stimulation to increase functional improvement.
  • Effects of assisted vs. traditional cycling in people with Parkinson’s Disease. Ward-Ritaco’s study compares traditional exercise bikes with active assisted cycling, a novel mode of aerobic training which uses a motorized function to assist participants in achieving a higher pedaling rate than they may be able to achieve with a traditional cycle. This assisted function may allow people with PD to exercise at the higher intensities associated with optimal health outcomes and potentially slow the progression of PD symptoms.
  • Weight training response among women 40-65. Study participants will complete resistance training sessions, half using standard weight training machines and half using the TONAL system, a technology-based resistance training system with a digital weight system that uses magnets and electricity. The study examines physiological and psychological responses to weight training programs in middle-aged women.