This article originally ran on the editorial pages of the Omaha World-Herald.
September 5, 2008
On the move UNO professor helps youngest and oldest with vital research in human motion
Imagine being a grandfather unable to stroll with your grandchildren around the neighborhood. Or simply walk from your car to the grocery store. Or perform other simple activities of daily living.
These physical limitations are common for people with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a circulatory disorder in which blockages occur in the peripheral arteries.
This progressively debilitating condition is a focus of important research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This impressive effort by UNO's biomechanics lab is headed by Dr. Nick Stergiou, nationally recognized for his work in this field.
PAD affects 8 million to 12 million people in the United States. Due to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries in the legs, patients develop increased leg pain when they walk for more than a block or even up a slight incline. The problem is more common among the elderly.
Dr. Stergiou's research offers hope for many patients due to its unique approach. As noted in his newsletter, his is the first laboratory to thoroughly examine how PAD patients walk.
Dr. Stergiou credits biomechanics for helping researchers identify differences between PAD treatment methods that previous research was unable to find. Indeed, he has emerged as one of the nation's leading experts in biomechanics and robotics. His findings have appeared extensively in prestigious journals in the field of exercise science.
His research is also critical for the youngest among us.
The professor and his colleagues from the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute study the sitting posture of infants to identify those with problems very early in life. They do important work in this regard, given that some in the medical community are often reluctant to label a young infant as having cerebral palsy or other neuron-muscular problems.
The researchers develop biomechanical tools to assess sitting behaviors and identify treatments for infants who are having difficulty learning to sit. Early therapeutic intervention, Dr. Stergiou says, can greatly benefit infants with developmental delay difficulties.
The UNO professor also can boast of a strong background in sports medicine, and while that is not his primary focus, his research in that area remains impressive.
His research team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied cerebral concussions in sports and uncovered new ways to determine whether athletes should return to competition. One of the recent studies was honored as the year's best by the scientific Journal of Athletic Training.
A recent editorial here highlighted how Wayne State College has benefited greatly from a graduate's generosity in amassing its impressive sports medicine center. In a similar manner, Dr. Stergiou has strengthened UNO and the state with remarkable research in public health. His work is a fitting testament to Nebraska's growing reputation as a strong research state.
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