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Created by: Chris Lane, SPT


I have had a strong interest in research before I applied to the UNC DPT program. I developed much of this interest after I participated in a research program during high school. I was excited to learn that UNC had a PhD program, the Human Movement Science Curriculum (HMSC), which PT students could apply to and enter, if accepted, after graduating from a PT program. During my second year in the UNC DPT program, I became interested in research that a faculty member, Dr. Debby Givens, was involved in completing. This research was related to transcranial magnetic stimulation and knee osteoarthritis. Dr. Givens told me more about the current project that she, a group of HMSC students and an HMSC faculty member, Dr. Brian Pietrosimone, were working on, and allowed me to assist them in inputting and analyzing data. Data collection was already completed by some of the HMSC students before I started on the research project. Still, performing the data input and analysis was an interesting experience and helped me become more familiar with the research process.

Dr. Givens also told me about an opportunity to present research at a local conference hosted by UNC. With her assistance, I performed some data analyses and created a poster titled, “The Immediate Effects of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Pain, Strength, and Function in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis,” that I presented at the UNC Human Movement Science Research Symposium last spring and at the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association Fall Conference last fall. A link to the poster is included below. I really enjoyed presenting this research at the conferences and the experiences inspired me to continue striving to work on research in the future.


As I learned more about our capstone project, I became interested in working on a research project for the capstone. Dr. Givens and I discussed some options of analyzing other variables and relationships in the data that was collected. With the assistance of a biostatistician, Dr. Richard Faldowski, I performed some additional data analyses. My product for the capstone project is an abstract which can be seen below. After this semester, we intend to work on other products, including a poster or platform presentation at next year’s American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) and a manuscript for publication to a journal.

The work that I have done with Dr. Givens throughout the past two years inspired me to apply to the UNC HMSC program and I am excited to say that I will plan to work on these additional products as I begin my next journey in the HMSC program this fall! I will plan to work with Dr. Givens and Dr. Louise Thoma, an incoming faculty member, on research associated with knee osteoarthritis and related conditions. I will possibly expand this capstone project to other similar projects in the PhD program. Ultimately, my goal is to engage in a combination of research, teaching, and patient care in the future.


Health Literacy and Writing a Competitive Abstract:  

The intended audience of the research abstract is physical therapists, particularly those that are interested in treating patients with knee osteoarthritis. For the health literacy component, I have listened to the Health Literacy VoiceThread on the Capstone Sakai page. As the VoiceThread mentions, health literacy is related to how individuals can understand health information and make appropriate decisions based on this information. I think the same concept applies to research. Physical therapists need to understand the results of research studies and be able to apply it to the clinic and make decisions based on the results and conclusions. Therefore, since the abstract is intended to be read by PTs, the language of the below abstract should be centered on language commonly used and understood by PTs.

Furthermore, it is important for me to write a competitive abstract for submission to conferences and/or journals. This will require a clear and succinct message that should be feasibly comprehended by my intended audience of PTs. The Health Literacy VoiceThread noted that patient education materials should focus on only a few areas rather than several broader areas. Similar to the patient education materials, the information and number of concepts included in an abstract should also not be overwhelming.

This abstract is intended to be submitted to the 2020 APTA CSM for a poster or platform presentation. I have looked at the abstract submission guidelines on the CSM website and have formatted my headings of the abstract based on the guidelines.1 CSM requires a minimum of five references that are no more than 10 years old, which I have included in the abstract.1 Examples of high-quality abstract submissions are also provided on the website,2 which gave me detailed insight on important characteristics to include in an abstract.

I also reviewed handouts from the UNC Writing Center related to abstract and scientific writing. The handouts provide advice on using clear and concise language and including key phrases that will be used in the larger article that can also help with indexing.3,4 The advice more specifically included using more precise words and phrases that are objective rather than subjective or figurative.4 Shorter words and shorter sentence structure are also preferable.4 The UNC Writing Center and UNC Health Sciences Library websites also have resources that will help me as I later create a poster/presentation and/or manuscript so I will certainly further review these resources.





Evaluation and Reflection:

To obtain feedback for the abstract, I constructed a brief evaluation form that was completed by UNC DPT faculty members and members of my cohort. I sent out the evaluation form as a document (provided below) to faculty and as an anonymous online survey to my classmates. I also requested feedback from my capstone committee. I have provided a summary of the results below.

Evaluation Form

Evaluation Results



I greatly appreciate all of the feedback that I received on the abstract. Most of the respondents either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statements provided in the evaluation form. Much of the feedback was related to making the abstract more concise and clarifying a few statements. I made some further edits to the abstract after receiving the feedback. It was certainly challenging to try to write a concise abstract and I feel that an abstract is one of the most challenging parts of writing a research paper. Since there are usually word limits in abstracts, every word and value that is written needs to have a purpose. It was particularly challenging to try to write a clear summary of results on a topic that can already appear complex, but students and therapists who may not be as familiar with some of the terminology can provide a great perspective of the abstract’s clarity. I will keep all of the comments that I received in mind as I continue finalizing the abstract and work on a poster or manuscript in the future. I will also likely try to seek similar feedback as I work on these products.



I would like to first thank Dr. Debby Givens, PT, DPT, PhD for giving me the opportunity to work on this research project and giving me great advice on improving my research skills and preparing for the PhD program. This process has been very exciting so far and further sparked my interest in research. I look forward to continuing working with you as we further develop this project and as I pursue the PhD program!

I would also like to thank my capstone committee members, Dr. Brian Pietrosimone, PhD, ATC and Dr. Kyle Cooper, PT, DPT, OCS who provided detailed and timely feedback on the project. I look forward to sharing the final products and outcomes of the project with you in the future!

I also appreciate all of the support from Hope Davis, MA and Steven Pfeiffer, MS. You have answered all of the questions that I had about the methods and data related to the project. Also, you have collected the data for the project so I could not have even started the capstone project without all of your hard work!

Another large thanks to Dr. Richard Faldowski, PhD who guided me through the data analysis process and answered all of my questions pertaining to the analyses and the statistical program that we used. I certainly now have a large personal appreciation for the time and effort that is required to perform numerous statistical analyses!

I also want to thank all of the faculty members and students who provided feedback on the abstract through the evaluation form that I sent out. I know that everyone is busy, especially with their own projects, so I really appreciate you all taking time to look at my project! I will continue to incorporate all of this feedback and seek further feedback as I continue working on the project.



  1. Call for Poster and Platform Abstracts. CSM Proposal & Abstract Submissions. Accessed March 26, 2019.
  2. CSM Poster Examples. CSM Proposal & Abstract Submissions. Accessed March 26, 2019.
  3. Abstracts – The Writing Center. Available at: Accessed April 12, 2019.
  4. Sciences – The Writing Center. Available at Accessed April 12, 2019.


  1. Deborah Lynn Givens

    Thank you for working on this project. It took many twists and turns as we dealt with all of the ups and downs of research. You seemed to have learned a bit about data reduction, especially with the pressure pain threshold data, which didn’t make it into this abstract. You also learned to run statistical analyses in JMP, which will help in the future as you do more projects. I look forward to working with you and watching you embark on a project from A-Z! Debby

  2. Chris Lane

    Thanks Dr. Lewek! And thanks for reviewing my abstract! I look forward to seeing and working with everyone in the PhD program next year!

  3. Chris Lane

    Thanks Dr. Thorpe! I look forward to continue building on this research project and hopefully presenting it next year at CSM! And I look forward to starting the HMSC program this fall!

  4. Chris Lane

    Thanks Kevin! Yes, TMS is not currently a very common intervention used in PT clinics. rTMS has shown benefits in patients with numerous types of conditions such as stroke and depression and I hope that benefits will be depicted in more neuromusculoskeletal conditions such as knee OA. If significant benefits are expected, I believe that the costs of administering rTMS can certainly be justified and it could be possible that insurance providers will cover some or all of the costs. It may also be possible that PTs could refer patients to a clinic that can administer rTMS.
    I am excited to start the PhD program soon and I think my future projects will center on knee OA, knee injuries, and possibly back pain. There are certainly a lot of interesting research going on among the DPT and EXSS faculty!

  5. Michael Lewek

    Well done! I look forward to having you in the PhD program next year! It was great to be able to review your abstract for CSM.

  6. Debbie Thorped

    Great job on your abstract! I look forward to seeing this presented at CSM 2020. I am impressed how you have immersed yourself in research while also immersed in DPT program. We are excited to have you as a student in the HMSC program!

  7. kbond2

    Great job on your capstone! The work that you have been doing with Dr. Givens is really interesting. I can definitely see the clinical relevance for physical therapists, seeing as total knee osteoarthritis has such a high prevalence in physical therapy clinics. In your clinical relevance section of the abstract, you state that TMS could be an intervention to alter neural excitability. How feasible is it for physical therapists to use TMS for patients? It seems like a piece of equipment that may not be available for therapists.
    I have spoken with you numerous times about your plans post-graduation and you have never wavered from wanting to do research. Having known you for three years now, I have no doubt that you will find happiness and success working in research. It seems that you are very passionate about your work. You mention other projects in the future. What other projects are you looking at working on in the near future. I am interested to hear about your future work! Once again, great job on your capstone and I look forward to reading some more of your work in the future.



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