A vision. It was that simple. After years of hard work and perseverance, the vision is now a reality. On September 5, 2013, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, along with the NU Foundation, dedicated the vision. A 23,000 square foot building designed exclusively for research in biomechanics.
Biomechanics is the ultimate STEM-related field. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Biomechanics uses physics (mechanics to be specific) and applies the laws of physics to human movement. To do this, biomechanics uses advanced technology and when the technology is not readily available to measure what we’d like it to, we engineer the technology. Further, none of this would be possible without math! Biomechanics is a field of study that is greatly interested in understanding why we move the way we do and further, can we help people move easier, better? Biomechanics is the crux of rehabilitation and physical therapy, exercise training, physical activity and even, early diagnosis of movement-related diseases.
Dr. Nick Stergiou (Director, Biomechanics Research Building) has been leading the charge at UNO and in Nebraska of improving people’s lives by trying to make them move healthier for almost 20 years. Dr. Stergiou started at UNO in 1996, and each year his vision of a building for biomechanics became more and more clear. As fate would have it, Dr. Stergiou gave a presentation at a NU Foundation event and struck the hearts of two wonderful individuals, Ruth and Bill Scott. The Scotts generously donated to the Campaign for Nebraska program, earmarking their donation to build the Biomechanics Research Building. The vision was no longer a vision, it was a blueprint!
UNO, the NU Foundation, Schemmer Architects, MCL Construction and the staff of the Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility over the past two years have worked to make this vision a reality. Jeff Kaipust, Coordinator of the Biomechanics Research Building, worked side-by-side with contractors, architects, interior designers and administration to make sure that each detail was perfect. This building boasts seven laboratories, numerous offices, large conference spaces, patient changing and evaluation rooms, workstations, collaboration spaces and even a machine shop to build and refine devices. The goal in using this resource is to function as an interdisciplinary enterprise that features collaboration between scientists, engineers, mathematicians, surgeons and clinicians to advance the understanding of healthy and abnormal movement patterns. There are four research programs within the building that work to understand the neurophysiology of gait, neuromuscular control of balance and posture, neuromuscular and sensory systems assessment and rehabilitation, and robotics and virtual reality rehabilitation and training.
(Use pictures with brief explanations of the research programs.)
The Main Motion Analysis Laboratory will be the primary data collection space. It is equipped with 3D motion capture systems and force measuring devices. This lab supports projects on mobility in patients with peripheral arterial disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis, falls in elderly and lower limb amputation.
The Virtual Reality Laboratory supports pioneering work in helping patients with a stroke, amputation, Parkinson’s disease, and astronauts recovering from space missions.
The Acoustics Laboratory is used for several projects investigating dual-task situations, such as walking and talking, to record and analyze interplay between motor skills and cognitive function.
The Balance and Strength Laboratory is used to continue high acclaimed work with traumatic brain injury, concussion, and falls in the elderly.
The Motor Development Laboratory supports research on the development of postural control in typically developing children and children with developmental disabilities as well as children with autism.
There are two Robotics laboratories. The first houses robots and brain imaging devices used to evaluate and train individuals with problems controlling movements of their upper limbs due to stroke or other diseases. The second laboratory is used to develop and refine surgical robot simulators for evaluating and training medical students and surgeons on robotic surgery techniques.
This building stands to grow the workforce of Nebraska, not only by training young, new scientists, but also by attracting the very best faculty from all over the world. UNO was given the opportunity to showcase their newly dedicated building to the attendees of the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics. Over 600 biomechanists traveled to Omaha for this four-day conference in September. One of their stops included touring the Biomechanics Research Building. During the tour over ten students asked Dr. Stergiou if he had any upcoming positions available. The desire to come and study at UNO has been planted and the outstanding programs as well as facilities will bring in the crop of young scientists.
Ruth and Bill Scott didn’t just stop with contributing for the building. At the dedication ceremony, they announced an endowed chair position to assure the continuation of the Biomechanics research mission. The Provost’s office for the University of Nebraska has also provided $1 million of competitive funding for new equipment needed in the new laboratories of the building. The new equipment in the building allows for independent setup for each laboratory and allows simultaneous data collections in multiple areas.
The faculty and staff of the Biomechanics Research Building are extremely thankful to Ruth and Bill Scott and their family, the Provost’s office, the NU Foundation, UNO administration, Schemmer Architects, MCL and everyone else that made this vision a reality. You are invited to come to the building to visit. Nothing gives the staff more pleasure than to share their work with the world. They would love to show you the same things that touched the hearts of Ruth and Bill Scott.