my capstone experience

Ryan Laperle '09, an Athletic Training major from Brooklyn, Conn., who was on the Track and Field team, discusses his group Capstone project on ankle instability in dominant and non-dominant ankles. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is the culmination of each student's academic experience and part of the Liberal Education Program at Colby-Sawyer College.

Laperle plans to attend San Jose State University for a Master's degree in Athletic Training.

Describe your group Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

Patrick Benson, Shannah Dalton, William Lyons and I chose to research ankle instability in dominant and non-dominant ankles using an electromyography (EMG) to record neuromuscular response on an unstable surface. We wanted to see if certain muscles that act on the ankle had a role with ankle instability.

We chose to focus on this particular subject because Pat participated in a study a few years ago with an unstable surface. We also wanted to research a subject that could be beneficial to athletic trainers once we completed it.

What research did you conduct for this project?

We designed an experiment using dominant and non-dominant ankles on an unstable surface. We tested two muscles on each of the leg and recorded latency time and intensity.

What did you learn through your Capstone, and in what ways was it a culmination of your learning experience at Colby-Sawyer?

I learned that I really enjoy research, and I look forward to pursuing it in the future. I also furthered my knowledge with electromyography, and how the muscles that act on the ankle react on an unstable surface.

I strongly believe that there is no better way to end a senior year than with the Capstone project. It was a great experience.

What was most fun and rewarding for you in the process of creating your Capstone?

We used a drop box as an unstable surface. When the sidewall was pulled out, the ankle was inverted to 30°. My grandfather and I built the drop box because there is no company that we know of that sells one like we needed. Seeing the drop box work throughout the research process was extremely rewarding.

The Scholar's Symposium Day was also rewarding because we were able to present our research to others that are also enthusiastic about the subject.

What did you find most challenging and difficult about the project?

Since we were researching dominant and non-dominant ankles with two muscles each, and the two variables of latency time and intensity, we had a lot of data. The statistical analysis was very time consuming and difficult.

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone, both for you and others?

I hope that when my peers and faculty look back, our Capstone project stands out among a field of remarkable Capstones. I also hope that it will serve as a tool to help athletic trainers rehab and prevent ankle injuries. The Capstone experience helped serve as a foundation for my interest in future Exercise Sport Sciences Research. I will always remember the Capstone experience because it was my first large research project.