Mark Feger, '11, an Albion College athletic training alumnus who was a four-year letter-winner for the Briton men's soccer team, received the David H. Perrin Doctoral Dissertation Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association Research & Education Foundation this summer. The Doctoral Dissertation Award Endowment provides an annual award of $1,000 to support cutting-edge research that is critical to the collective future of those active in the athletic training profession.
Feger received both his masters ('12) and doctoral degree ('16) from the University of Virginia. While under the direction of advisor Jay Hertel, he worked to understand the treatment of lateral ankle sprains, and why many patients end up developing chronic ankle instability. His research analyzed the benefits of comprehensive impairment-based rehabilitation and gait training to maximize patient outcomes.
"An ankle sprain is the most common type of athletic injury, and many of these patients develop chronic ankle instability," Feger, who went on to medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University and is studying to become an orthopedic surgeon, said. "Normal rehabilitation alone does not improve the way a patient with chronic ankle instability will walk. They still walk in a way that may predispose to future ankle sprains or result in them rolling their ankle. The objective of our research was to improve patient outcomes by restoring normal function and preventing future injury."
Feger distinguished himself at VCU, receiving the Edith E. and Hugo R. Seibel Award for Excellence in Gross Anatomy — something that's particularly meaningful to prospective orthopaedists, given their wide-angle focus on the body – and he spent time with children who have serious illnesses, such as cancer, through VCU's SMILE Program (Students Making it a Little Easier).
"Medical students pair up with kids undergoing various treatments at VCU," Feger says. "Pediatric patients don't necessarily look forward to coming to the hospital, but if they get to play games, talk, and do science projects with us, it might help take their mind off the treatments they are here to receive."
Alongside his accomplishments, what sets Feger apart is the humanity he sees beyond the flesh and bone.
"I know what I want to do in the future, and that's take care of patients," Feger says. "It means a lot to me to get someone moving again, and get them back to living their life."
Scott Harris contributed to this story