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R. Matt Brothers isn’t an M.D., but he’s tweaking a medical procedure that could save life and limb.

Brothers, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, along with Kenneth Diller, professor of biomedical engineering at UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering, has received a four-year grant to explore how a procedure called cryotherapy can be used to treat patients without causing them injuries or leading to amputation.

Cryotherapy is the treatment of a physical ailment through the use of cold temperatures, and it can be as basic as having a football player dunk his leg in an ice bath after a game or the procedure can be employed in complex orthopedic surgeries.

While the number of people who have benefited from cryotherpay is immeasurable, the procedure has significant downsides.

“Currently, there are about 1,500 to 2,000 incidences of cryotherapy induced injury a year in the U.S. alone,” said Brothers, who specializes in cardiovascular physiology. “On the surface you might say, well, what’s the significance? It may seem like a trivial number, but you break that down and you have five, six, seven injuries a day.”

Brothers lab group shot

Pictured (left to right): Janee Terwoord, Kevin Christmas, Dr. R. Matt Brothers, Chansol Hurr, Jordan Patik

These injuries range from tissue necrosis (the death of cells due to lack of blood flow) to neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nervous system) and, in extreme cases, amputation.

Most simple applications of cryotherapy carry little or no danger, but when someone has sustained cryotherapy treatment, such as with knee surgery, there is a distinct risk of harm, according to Brothers.

The reason? In an extended cryotherapy treatment, during which a patient may have a limb submerged in icy water for several hours, blood flow in the treatment area reduces by 90 percent. When the limb is removed from the ice bath skin temperature returns to normal fairly quickly, but blood flow in the affected area remains at 10 percent of its baseline value for up to two or three hours post-treatment.

According to Brothers, this restriction of blood and oxygen supply to tissues – called “ischemia” – can have disastrous consequences.

“Currently, there are about 1,500 to 2,000 incidences of cryotherapy induced injury a year in this country alone.” – R. Matt Brothers, a cardiovascular physiologist specialist

“It’s this state of pronounced and sustained ischemia that is likely causing many of the injuries,” said Brothers. “You’re not watching out for the metabolites that are being produced, not providing new blood, and not providing oxygen. All of this creates an internal environment that makes people more susceptible to injuries.”

Thanks to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, Brothers and Diller have teamed up as co-principal investigators in a new study that may solve that problem.

“Ken’s engineering background and expertise in device design nicely compliments my background in integrative physiology and vascular control, and those two areas of expertise are what this research project demands,” said Brothers.

According to Brothers, the research has three main aims. The first is to identify the core issues – find out how much blood flow decreases and if there is a temperature response to the water that’s applied, for example.

The second aim, which is to mechanistically identify the main source of the blood constriction, is more difficult. Using a delicate process that involves small gauge hollow needles, sterile membranes, and a laser Doppler probe, various drugs that impact blood pressure and heart rate are infused just below the surface of the skin.

A host of antioxidants will be tested to block the response of sympathetic nerves that are most likely causing the stricture. “The beauty of this protocol is that whatever we infuse stays local. There’s really no harm, from a risk standpoint, to the subject because the effect washes out very rapidly,” said Brothers.

The final goal of the study is to design a new cryotherapy device that can overcome the negative complications of the procedure.

“We don’t want to completely inhibit the vaso constriction or the ischemic response,” said Brothers. “There are very real clinical benefits from those in terms of reducing pain and swelling, so there is a need for it. We’re just trying to identify how we can prevent it from being so pronounced for so long.”

Device design could take a variety of directions, but for now Brothers envisions a cryotherapy apparatus that will stimulate enough blood flow to clean out old metabolites and reintroduce fresh blood and oxygen.

“We’re tinkering with different ways to inflate the cuff ever so briefly,” said Brothers. “This will cause pressure to build up that squeezes the blood vessels, washes out what was sitting in there all this time, and re-infuses life.”

Brothers and Diller are just beginning the research project, so hard data and final results are still a long way off.

“With this kind of work, very rarely do you answer a question and consider the investigation definitely done,” said Brothers. “You find information that has an effect and then you build on that and build on the next thing. I see who-knows-how-many subprojects resulting from this grant. Even considering all of the uncertainties, I’m very optimistic that the outcome will deliver widespread benefits.”

-Video by Christina S. Murrey

For years common sense has told us that swimming is a beneficial exercise. But thanks to ongoing research by Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka, director of the College of Education’s Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin, is offering proof to bolster those claims.

“Everybody knows exercise is good,” he said. “But the exercise that people talk about, research-wise, is often walking or cycling. When exercise guidelines are released swimming is always included, but there’s no research evidence that swimming is equally effective.”

Seeking to fill this knowledge gap, Tanaka is conducting a groundbreaking study of the effects of swimming on older adults afflicted by issues such as osteoarthritis.

“If you look at the Arthritis Foundation’s website and brochures, there’s a picture of a guy who’s swimming,” he said. “But if you search the literature to try to find any research that used swimming with arthritis patients, there’s none.”

Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka

Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka

“Older people are preferentially affected by arthritis, especially osteoarthritis,” he said. “Some people hate to exercise because of the pain, but swimming is one of the few things where they don’t really have to worry about that. Because it’s not a weight bearing activity, they don’t suffer the knee or hip or joint pain that most arthritis patients suffer.”

Although the final results from the study won’t be available until later this summer, Tanaka has discovered that the concrete benefits of swimming are manifold.

“We’re finally getting data showing that swimming exercise reduces pain as well as improves functions in arthritis patients,” he said.

In addition to easing arthritis discomfort, the water-bound exercise has proven to be as effective as cycling and walking in reducing high blood pressure and mitigating knee and ankle pain in overweight patients who have no other viable form of exercise. Additionally, the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be erased from these patients. “If you’re obese and exercise in hot temperatures, you’ll overheat yourself, but you can avoid that in swimming,” Tanaka said.

A onetime triathlete with a long-standing interest in swimming, Tanaka has been studying the health benefits of the sport for 15 years. For his master’s thesis he focused on weight-training activities for competitive swimmers and subsequently studied the effects of swimming on elderly patients with high blood pressure for his doctoral degree.

“We’re finally getting data showing that swimming exercise reduces pain as well as improves functions in arthritis patients.” – Hirofumi Tanaka, director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory,

But it wasn’t until he arrived at UT Austin that his research acquired a fresh focus, thanks to a new technique for assessing arterial stiffness.

“I wanted to determine if swimming is effective in reducing arterial stiffness,” said Tanaka. “The reason your blood pressure shoots up as you get older is that your arteries become stiff. We examined that issue three or four years ago, so this latest research on osteoarthritis patients is the next step in the ongoing research.”

The current study is the culmination of these efforts, with close to two years of research and 30 study participants. “In many aspects it’s actually a good message that we can deliver,” he said. “Swimming is better than other forms of exercise for these patients, as long as benefits are verified. Now we’re getting the research findings to back it up. Finally.”

SwimmerFuelled by a desire to improve public health through non-invasive lifestyle interventions, Tanaka’s studies have moved from sport science to his current clinically oriented cardiovascular research interests. His primary passions revolve around preventive cardiology and preventive gerontology, which is the study of how cardiovascular and physical functions deteriorates with age and what kinds of lifestyle modifications can help retard those changes.

“I thought that would be more rewarding,” said Tanaka, “because many people suffer from heart attacks and strokes. In fact, my dad had aortic dissections so I have a family history and some personal interest to go along with that. It’s an ambitious mission, but I’d like my work to help eradicate life-threatening occurrences like heart attacks.”

Dr. Tanaka factoids:

  • Earned a B.A. in physical education/martial arts at the International Budo (Martial Arts) University in Japan, earning three black belts.
  • Joined the University of Texas at Austin faculty in 2002.
  • Has published more than 200 research articles in journals such as Circulation and the The Journal of Physiology.
  • Is an elected fellow of the American Heart Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, The Gerontological Society of America, and the Society for Geriatric Cardiology.

Keryn Pasch

Dr. Keryn Pasch

Pasch has been devoted to the idea that negative health outcomes like obesity and addiction are preventable, especially if they are addressed early. Her research focuses on the influence of media on youth risk behaviors as well as factors that may alter the influence of advertising. “I really believe in primary prevention,” she said. “If we can prevent things early on it’s going to help across a multitude of outcomes. They all tend to be linked.”

Describe your current research project.

We looked at food, beverage, alcohol, and tobacco advertising around 34 middle schools, 14 high schools, and nine hospitals in the Austin area. We objectively documented all the outdoor advertising within a half-mile of the schools and hospitals and analyzed it for content and theme. We also analyzed the ad content for nutritional information so we’d know how often calories, fat, and sugars were advertised. We’re currently analyzing that data and should have some results soon.

Can you describe the trends you’ve seen?

We found more than 7,000 food and beverage ads – not including alcohol and tobacco – around the schools. We defined as food and beverage advertising as anything that entices you to eat or drink.. I was surprised that surrounding 57 schools we found 5,600 advertisements. On average, there were 113 for the middle schools and 143 for the high schools. That’s a lot of exposure. And that’s just within a half mile.

Do advertisements differ from neighborhood to neighborhood?

Historically, studies have shown that there’s more tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy food and beverage advertising in minority neighborhoods. We did some analyses and found the ads are most prevalent at low-socioeconomic-status (SES) schools. This was just with Austin ISD schools. The schools in poor neighborhoods had more than twice the advertising of higher SES schools. Additionally, lower SES schools had significantly more fast food outlets compared to higher SES schools.

What is most personally rewarding about your research?

It’s very exciting to see undergraduates motivated to go into research. It’s also great when I introduce them to something new and they realize, “You know, I didn’t think I would like this but I love this.” I also like figuring out the problems and trying to add my little pieces to the evidence that says there are things in the larger environment that make it unhealthy. Adding one more piece of evidence helps bring the issue to people’s awareness.

About Dr. Keryn Pasch

  • Dr. Keryn Pasch, assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education since 2008
  • National Cancer Institute postdoctoral fellow in cancer prevention
  • Founder of UT’s Prevention Research Lab

Researchers in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education (KHE) at UT Austin are studying children’s physical activity and its effects on cognitive health, behavior, and academic performance. Produced by the Longhorn Network, this documentary focuses on the work of the department’s Kinetic Kidz Lab, which is directed by KHE associate professor and graduate adviser Darla Castelli.

Video by: Longhorn Network

Matt Camarillo

Matt Camarillo

Matt Camarillo now holds an M.D. from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, thanks to a strong start in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. He points to his time at The University of Texas at Austin as the ideal launch for his medical studies.

“Everything I learned I was able to carry over to medical school and orthopedic residency,” he said. “My undergraduate experiences gave me a great foundation for my future career.”

Your story

As a freshman I had the opportunity to serve as a student athletic trainer in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. It was the perfect situation since I’d always really wanted to be involved in a combination of sports and medicine. Thanks to the guidance of Allen Hardin and Brian Farr I took on that role while mainlining my academic schedule, all the while working toward the goal of going to medical school. They also gave me the opportunity to major in chemistry as well so I could complete the prerequisites for medical school.

Why UT?

I visited a couple of campuses, but when they gave me the opportunity to work as a student athletic trainer at UT it was a no brainer at that point. My family all graduated from UT and I love the whole atmosphere of Austin. The fact that the university and college gave me so much help in completing my education was also really the driving factor.

Life After UT

After graduation I went to the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. During my fourth year Gov. Rick Perry appointed me student regent for the UT System Board of Regents. When I completed that program in 2008, I did my orthopedic residency at the University of Houston trauma center. This was an intensive five-year program that focused on the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. I finished there in 2013. Currently I’m at the University of Kentucky doing a sports medicine fellowship, which is a dedicated year of training in sports medicine, specifically for knee and shoulder injuries. Next year I’m returning to University of Houston as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Advice for Students

Follow your goals. Take advantage of all the opportunities you have as an undergrad. Take advantage of the professors and everything available to you. Explore. Don’t be too set on one thing. Keep your mind open to the new and different because things may pop up during your education that may actually change your life and change your career path.


Office Workout: Five Easy Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

Spending too much time deskbound leads to tight muscles, a weak core, and poor circulation. Julie Drake, operations director at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education’s Fitness Institute of Texas (FIT), demonstrates five desk exercises designed to chase away office health hazards.

Small steps make a big difference.

Right now, before you read on, stand up. Go ahead – nobody is looking. Just get out of your chair and continue reading while you stretch your legs.

According to Juststand.org, the average American sits for 7.7 hours per day, or roughly half of the time spent awake. Research supporting the claim that exercise is good for you has existed for decades but until recently nobody asked the question, “Is sitting bad for you?”
We have looked at exercise from many angles and know that it’s beneficial for everyone. However, scientists are just beginning to test the theory that sitting for extended periods of time might have more negative health effects than simply not exercising at all.

In our current era of unavoidably inactive work as well as inactive leisure time, more and more studies are examining the physiological repercussions of prolonged sitting.

A recent University of Texas at Austin study has compared accelerometer counts for two groups of people, one with normal BMIs (18.5-25) and the other composed of people with overweight BMIs (>25). Both groups were technically sedentary; however, the normal-weight BMI group was found to spend an average of 21 minutes more per day engaging in moderate intensity physical activity (Davis et al., 2012).

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT is the title given to energy expended during many of the basic activities of daily living. All of the steps, gestures, and movements that it takes to get you through the day add up to the greater part of your daily caloric expenditure and can be as important to maintaining your health as engaging in regular exercise.
Finding ways to increase your NEAT can be as simple as standing up while reading this article, converting your desk to a standing work-station, or setting an alarm every 60 minutes to remind you to take a 2-3 minute stretching or moving break. Take the stairs whenever possible and consider giving up that parking spot right next to the building in favor of a few extra steps to the door.

Calandra LindstadtAbout the writer: Calandra Lindstadt, B.S., C.P.T., is a second year master’s student in Health Behavior and Health Education and is a Graduate Research Assistant with the Fitness Institute of Texas. She achieved her B.S. in Health Promotion and Fitness from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012. Calandra is interested in improving the quality of life for underserved populations through health education and physical activity. She has been teaching group fitness classes and yoga since 2012. Her interests include bicycle commuting, healthy home-cooking, and exploring South America one country at a time.


Davis, J. N., Hodges, V. A., & Gillham, M. B. (2006). Physical activity compliance: differences between overweight/obese and normal-weight adults. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 14(12), 2259–2265. doi:10.1038/oby.2006.265

Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., Salmon, J., Cerin, E., Shaw, J. E., Zimmet, P. Z., & Owen, N. (2008). Breaks in sedentary time: beneficial associations with metabolic risk. Diabetes Care, 31(4), 661–666. doi:10.2337/dc07-2046

Patel, A. V., Bernstein, L., Deka, A., Feigelson, H. S., Campbell, P. T., Gapstur, S. M., … Thun, M. J. (2010). Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172(4), 419–429. doi:10.1093/aje/kwq155


Catherine Riegle-Crumb

Catherine Riegle-Crumb

Math and science education expert Catherine Riegle-Crumb has received a National Science Foundation grant to take an unprecedented look at gender and racial/ethnic inequalities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

The funding will allow her to study student participation – broken down by gender and ethnic/racial subgroups – in STEM courses from sixth grade through college. Her findings should provide a clearer picture of the education experiences of groups that tend to be poorly represented in STEM classes, college majors, and careers.

Riegle-Crumb’s research will focus not only on students’ actual STEM course involvement and achievement but also on intended attainment. Examining how patterns of academic achievement and social inclusion vary over several years between subgroups may help explain disparities in STEM participation.

The project will draw on five large-scale and longitudinal datasets – three that are nationally representative and two that were collected in Texas and include large samples of Hispanic students. According to Riegle-Crumb this will be the first study of its kind, one that employs big data to investigate the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and STEM education.

“It will offer a comprehensive description and analysis of STEM inequality that’s previously been unavailable,” said Riegle-Crumb, an associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.



Kevin Cokley

Kevin Cokley

Cokley Named Director of UT’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis

Kevin Cokley, a professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, has been named the new director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA). He replaces King Davis, who has been director for the past three years.

In addition to his affiliation with the College of Education, Cokley also has been a core faculty member in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies since its inception.

Cokley is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Black Psychology and past chair of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. His research and teaching center on African American psychology, with a focus on:

  • psychological and environmental factors that impact African American student achievement
  • the influence of racial and ethnic identity
  • the correlates of mental health, including perceived discrimination, religiosity, and spirituality
  • the “imposter phenomenon”

He has received recognition for being one of the most prolific authors on ethnic minority psychology and among the top contributors to the Journal of Counseling Psychology. Additionally, he was elected a Fellow in the APA for his contributions to ethnic minority psychology and counseling psychology.

Cokley has also garnered the Charles and Shirley Thomas Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues for mentoring ethnic minority students, the “10 Rising Stars of the Academy” award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and the Association of Black Psychologists’ Scholarship Award.

The IUPRA, which was created in 2011, was a joint effort of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, John Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, and UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts. The aim of the institute has been to advocate, through applied policy research, for equal access, opportunity, and choice for populations of color.

In a recent survey, Austin Independent School District teachers, reading coaches, and administrators reported that the Texas Literacy Initiative has significantly improved student literacy.

The Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) is a professional development and technical assistance project launched by The Meadows Center at UT’s College of Education. The initiative works to improve school readiness and success in language and literacy of disadvantaged students, and it has benefited more than 20,000 Austin ISD students since it was implemented two years ago.

In November 2013, AISD’s Department of Research and Evaluation conducted a survey of 297 teachers, 51 literacy coaches and reading specialists, and 48 administrators.

Across the board, AISD educators reported being well supported in their efforts to improve students’ reading outcomes. In the survey, 93% of teachers and 94% of reading coaches said that their campus administrators supported their TLI work, and 83% of administrators reported that they received “the support I need” from district-level TLI staff.

An impressive 98% of administrators reported that TLI improves student literacy at their school. A substantial majority (81%) of teachers noted that TLI reading coaches are important to the academic success of their students.

TLI’s emphasis on data-informed decision-making is one of the factors driving improvement in student achievement. Data meetings helped 87% of teachers “drive my instruction to support the needs of my students.” One surveyed teacher explained that a benefit of meeting with reading coaches is “…being able to sit down and review the data showing student progress and being able to work together to collaborate on different activities that will help support our students’ learning.”

Teamwork and collaboration play key roles in TLI’s success. With a high number of AISD schools and educators involved, the implementation plan depends on consistent communication across the school sites and strong professional learning communities.

The Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin works closely with the leadership at AISD to develop effective grant implementation teams and prepare literacy coaches to support teachers in meeting their instructional goals. As Marissa Campbell, the reading coach at Guerrero Thompson Elementary School, said, “Often, I feel my job enters uncharted territory—yet the [TLI] training and support help me find my path.”

To ensure that best practices for instruction, professional development, and community involvement are consistently employed, similar surveys and student data reporting will continue to track TLI’s progress in the district.

Dolly Lambdin

Dolly Lambdin

Noted physical education expert and clinical professor Dolly Lambdin recently was elected president of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), a 20,000-member national organization that promotes research and best practices in health and physical education, physical activity, dance, and sport.

Lambdin, a faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, was named to the new position at SHAPE’s annual conference.

As SHAPE national spokesperson, Lambdin will promote quality physical education, physical activity, and sports programs as well as lend expertise in national policy debates regarding childhood obesity and inactivity.

Over the course of her career she has supervised more than 100 student teachers and currently teaches undergraduate-level elementary teaching methods and curriculum courses at The University of Texas at Austin. She also has taught Technology in Physical Education, Analysis of Teaching, and Current Issues in Physical Education in the masters and doctoral programs in the department’s Physical Education Teacher Education Program.’’

Prior to becoming SHAPE’s president, Lambdin served the organization in several other capacities at state and national levels. She was president of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), one of SHAPE’s associations; a member of the NASPE executive board; and a National Workshop Leader for Program Improvement in Physical Education.

Lambdin also has received several prestigious awards from SHAPE (formerly the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance), including the Margie Hanson Elementary Physical Education Service Award, NASPE Physical Education Teacher Education Honor Award, and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the NASPE Council on School Leadership.

She has been with the College of Education for 36 years and for 14 of those also was teaching in public and private elementary schools. Lambdin has co-authored “Putting Research to Work in Elementary Physical Education” and two Texty-award-winning physical education textbooks with Lawrence F. Locke; “Fitness for Life: Middle School” with Chuck Corbin and Guy LeMasurier; and “Fitness for Life: Elementary School” with Corbin, LeMasurier, and Meg Greiner.

Also honored or featured at the SHAPE conference were professor Louis J. Harrison (Department of Curriculum and Instruction), who was named chair of SHAPE’s Research Council, and associate professor Darla Castelli (Department of Kinesiology and Health Education), who was a general session speaker at the International Forum on Physical Literacy.