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Billerica High Students Gain Insight into Exercise Physiology and Physical Therapy Careers

Faculty Members Demonstrate How Clinicians Evaluate Injury Risks

Kyle Coffey with student
Lecturer Kyle Coffey, right, demonstrates an easy way to assess ankle mobility.

By Karen Angelo

Students who take a sports injury management class at Billerica Memorial High School recently visited UMass Lowell’s exercise physiology labs to meet professors and participate in demonstrations. 

Twenty-two students rotated between two labs where Clinical Assoc. Prof. Edgar Torres and Lecturer Kyle Coffey of the Department of Physical Therapy showed them how clinicians evaluate the risk of injuries. 

Coffey had students perform squats to watch for inconsistencies in movement patterns that give insight into weaknesses. Based on his observation, he was then able to suggest ways to prevent injuries. Students discussed how asymmetries in the human body over time could stress joints and tissues, leading to common injuries. 

“We were excited to welcome the Billerica High School students here to get them thinking more about what a career in exercise physiology entails,” says Coffey. 

Billerica high school students with Edgar Torres
Billerica Memorial High School students Abigail Campbell, Jordan Rogers, Amaan Gadatia, Trevor Melendy, Megan Crowley, Matthew Milano, Nicole Wedge, Thomas Harty, Travis Cole, John O'Neil and Christopher Bullock are shown with UMass Lowell Clinical Assoc. Prof. Edgar Torres.
Torres conducted knee examinations on a UML student to demonstrate how clinicians assess potential injuries such as ACL tears. He discussed knee motion and strength and ligament injuries. 

“The students showed a keen interest in our lab session,” says Torres. “I hope that we were able to spark an interest in the field of exercise science and clinical professions such as physical therapy.” 

Chris Burns '98, '01, who teaches the sports injury, exercise physiology and human anatomy classes at Billerica Memorial High School, says he wanted to bring students to UML to give them an opportunity to connect with faculty in a hands-on lab. 

“The students really enjoyed the experience,” says Burns, who is a graduate of the UMass Lowell exercise physiology and doctor of physical therapy programs. “Some students really liked South Campus, others mentioned the interesting experience with the UML professors, and one mentioned possibly changing from wanting to study nursing to exercise physiology.”