Students & Faculty Conduct Research on Peripheral Neuropathy
Under the guidance of Professor Li Li, Ph.D., Georgia Southern University graduate student Kelsey Lewis has spent the last year conducting research on peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that is a result of damage to the nerves outside an individual’s brain and spinal cord which results in weakness, numbness and pain.
“Many people are not aware of peripheral neuropathy; therefore, they do not understand the consequences the condition has on balance and activities of daily living,” stated Lewis. “Individuals with peripheral neuropathy are at an increased risk of falling.”
As lead investigator, Lewis was responsible for recruiting participants, communicating with participants, scheduling testing sessions, collecting data and leading the research team throughout the study. The research team consisted of Li, Lewis, undergraduate exercise science student Austen Arnold and visiting scholar Mengzi Sun.
Arnold’s interest in biomechanics led him to take notice in Lewis’s research project and noted Lewis’s leadership for his growth in research. “My responsibilities started off as more of a note taker, but as time progressed, I was given the opportunity to take on more aspects of the research,” stated Arnold.
Data was collected from individuals 65 years and older with a physician’s diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, diabetes, or healthy. Having multiple participant groups allowed for data comparison.
“Not knowing if an individual has the condition can have consequences,” noted Li. “The consequences can be severe without early intervention as early intervention can slow down, or even reverse, the course of development of the symptoms and their underlying pathology. The benefits of early intervention would diminish with the development of the severe symptoms of the disease.”
Data revealed many of the participants had early-stage peripheral neuropathy without even knowing they had the condition.
“By knowing where the individual is deficient, a rehabilitation program can be tailored to meet their needs,” explained Lewis.
Results of the study were shared on May 12 during a virtual panel with research participants as well as members of the community.
After graduation, both Lewis and Arnold have opted to continue their education with Georgia Southern. Lewis began the Doctor of Physical Therapy program on the Armstrong Campus this past May and Arnold will begin his graduate studies in kinesiology this August on the Statesboro Campus.