Forty years after graduating from the University of Delaware, Ted Haas found himself commuting to campus twice a week from Lewes, Del. But this time around, Haas wasn’t a student—he was a research subject.
A lacrosse player at UD from 1968 to 1971, Haas maintained an active lifestyle as an adult, jogging, cycling, and playing racquetball and softball. But by the time he reached his late fifties, his competitiveness caught up with him, and he began to experience pain and stiffness in his lower back when he got out of bed in the morning.
In April 2011, an ad in the Wilmington News Journal caught Haas’s attention. The UD Department of Physical Therapy was recruiting subjects for a study to determine whether a combination of low back stabilization exercises and electrical stimulation is a more effective treatment than back stabilization exercises alone for older adults with low back pain.
Haas met the criteria for the study and enrolled. “It was an 85-mile trip each way,” he says, “but I figured it was worth it if it would help me with a good PT program.”
Haas didn’t miss a single appointment, and he faithfully did all of the between-sessions homework assigned by therapist Meg Sions, a Ph.D. student working on the research under the advisement of Assistant Prof. Gregory Hicks.
The hard work paid off for this former athlete, with his post-treatment evaluation showing significant improvement in all measures.
“Ted demonstrated significant improvement per his objective testing in his low back pain, everyday function that was previously limited by his low back pain, physical mobility, balance, and back muscle endurance,” Sions says.
For Haas, participation in the research project not only addressed his physical problems but also served as a learning experience. “Meg taught me that it’s all about the core,” he says. “Strengthening the core helps to lower strain.”
“I’m not surprised that the treatment was so successful,” he adds. “I knew that the researchers and clinicians at the University would bring the most innovative approach to my back problems. In six weeks, Meg improved my quality of life, and I look for further advances in the next six weeks as I continue the program at home. My goal is to be back on the racquetball courts with my friends here in the Rehoboth-Lewes area three months from now.”
About the research
The study in which Haas participated is led by Gregory Hicks, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. Hicks’s research focuses on chronic lower back pain in older adults. Meg Sions is a Ph.D. candidate in UD’s interdisciplinary Biomechanics and Movement Science (BIOMS) graduate program. Her doctoral research is aimed at determining the impact of chronic low back pain on physical and psychosocial function in older adults.
About Ted Haas
Ted Haas earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1971. He spent his entire career working for the University of Maryland extension service as an agronomy specialist for the Eastern Shore. After retiring from the Maryland faculty several years ago, Haas served as a park ranger at Cape Henlopen State Park and as a dockmaster for the city of Lewes.
The University of Delaware has been a family affair for Haas. Related alumni include his wife, Patricia Lynch Haas (1970); his daughters, Kristen Haas Perez (1996) and Gretchen Haas Wyshock (1999); his sister, Carla Haas Spadaro (1966); his brother-in-law, Gregory Lynch (1976); and his mother-in-law, Jane Kenney Lynch (1940).
Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Evan Krape
This article originally appeared in UDaily and is reposted here courtesy of the College of Health Sciences.