Friday Faculty Focus: UNO’s Dr. Jenna Yentes

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August 19th, 2016

Dr. Jenna Yentes is an Assistant Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. (Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

Dr. Jenna Yentes is an Assistant Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. (Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

More than 12 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease OR COPD. Another 12 million are said to have it, without knowing it. In this week’s Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO’s Brandon McDermott talks with Dr. Jenna Yentes, assistant professor of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


Brandon: Dr. Jenna Yentes, welcome to the show and thanks for joining us.

Dr. Yentes: Thank you for having me.

Brandon: You’re currently working with the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability at UNO’s biomechanics research building focusing on COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease see Opie’s really kind of an umbrella term but what does it encompass.

Dr. Yentes: Well Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a disease of the lungs. However it affects all of the systems. People don’t realize that, people that suffer from COPD end up having other issues with muscles or becoming tired or losing the will to participate in daily activity. So that’s really where my research is sort of focused on.

Brandon: your bio mechanist and you study the physics of human movement, talk about the partnership with UNMC and why you’re working on research for COPD.

Dr. Yentes: I am a bio mechanist so I study physics essentially of human movement – but that doesn’t give me insight into the clinical issues that these patients have. So I really need the clinical insight from the pulmonologist at UNMC. I specifically work with Dr. Stephen Rennard, and he helps me see issues that I may not see – being that I don’t have that clinical background. A lot of the work that we have done in partnership together is really concentrating on the functional outcomes of those patients, really trying to understand how we can make their daily lives better. Can we make it easier for them to move?

Can we make it easier for them to go out to the grocery store and get the groceries that they need? (Also) make social activities easier to participate in you know getting out to the community centers to play bridge or – can we get you back on the golf course? Those sorts of things that’s really what we’re interested in. I know that I can’t make the disease go away but I would like to make your quality of life better.

Brandon: And how is the study or the research going so far.

Dr. Yentes: It’s been. Really a positive experience. We’ve had a lot of great findings that we found we’ve been able to find out what makes patients with COPD a little bit different than persons without it – in the way that they move and how they approach different activities. Currently we’re trying to understand different rehab protocols to maybe ease those differences and set them on an equal or somewhat more of an equal playing field and get them back to being active.

Brandon: We know that smoking causes and it has several other causes to sudden till you’re being an active contribute to COPD as well?

Dr. Yentes:  It’s very interesting that you ask that. There’s a lot of debate within the community as to what the causes of COPD are. Funny enough –I’m not saying that people should smoke, but not everyone that smokes ends up with COPD or even decreased lung function. There are few where there lung function is not affected at all. So, that’s an interesting group to study we don’t know why that is. My father actually has COPD. He never smoked. He was a firefighter. So he got it from an occupational exposure.

Sedentary behavior definitely has its effects as well; we’re not quite sure if sedentary behavior increases the number of toxins that you have that sort of flow through your body.  Inflammation is a more technical way to put it –and  by having more inflammation floating through your bloodstream could then start to cause other problems that (could) exacerbate COPD So there’s sort of this debate as to whether or not it’s coming from outside or inside the systems. So this is a hot topic right now in the study of the COPD.

Brandon: Dr. Yentes, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Dr. Yentes: The only thing I’d like to add is that is if anyone’s interested in participating in my research they can definitely give us a call at 402-554-3225. We’d love to have them participate and if you’d like to know anymore or you think that you’re at risk for COPD, please go see your physician.

Brandon: Thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Dr. Yentes:  Thank you very much for having me.

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