Volunteering to discover

The Exergame Study is testing the effects of exercising on improving cognition and fitness in community-dwelling older adults with memory loss complaints. 

The 20th century writer Zora Neale Hurston, widely known for her wit, once defined scientific research as “poking and prying with a purpose.” Alliterative and pithy as that quip may be, we certainly saw during 2020 how relevant scientific research endeavors are and may merely wonder at the inestimable value of having volunteers willing to be research participants.

In recent months, the University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC) has offered a number of extraordinary opportunities for retirees to participate in one-time or on-going medical studies at the University. These include: 

Spinal Cord Injury Study, a two-part study utilizing both injured and healthy participants (conducted by the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine)
Exergame Study to Prevent Alzheimer’s, with state-of-the-art exercise equipment provided (School of Nursing)
Chronic Lower Back Pain Study (Rehabilitation Medicine)
Body Awareness Study (Rehabilitation Medicine)
Research on Aging (Medical School)
COVID-19 research (Division of Infectious Diseases).

The studies mentioned here all take place virtually—online via Zoom, with electronic surveys, and/or phone and video interviews. Participants use their home computers or tablets. When minimal in-person assessments are required, COVID-19 precautions are strictly applied. Some studies provide a small stipend. 

As this writer learned by joining the Body Awareness Study, being involved in research does indeed have “purpose,” which includes the motivational bonus of new experience and self-discovery for the volunteer.

To learn more about research opportunities at the University, please contact URVC by email at urvc@umn.edu or call 612-625-8016. 

—Marva Sullivan, URVC communications

Publication date: 
January 18, 2021
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