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NMU hosts research lab open house

Visitors to the new Northern Michigan University Kinesiology and Exercise Oncology Research Laboratory in Marquette look at the Treadwall, which simulates rock climbing. The Treadwall and other pieces of equipment were available for the community to view at a Monday open house. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — A Treadwall and an Incline Trainer have found a home along West Washington Street.

And so have other exercise machines.

An open house was held Monday at the new Northern Michigan University Kinesiology and Exercise Oncology Research Laboratory at 841 Washington St. Visitors had the chance to see the facility and discuss research about exercise and cancer patients/ survivors, multiple sclerosis, concussions, outdoor recreational therapy and athletic training.

Elizabeth Wuorinen, associate dean and director of the NMU School of Health and Human Performance, said the school’s six programs can use the facility.

“We’re hopeful that all six of them will utilize this space to conduct research and to allow for their students to be able to get research experience,” Wuorinen said. “We’re also hoping that we’ll do some community outreach programs within this space as well.”

One of the attention-grabbers at the open house was the large Treadwall, which simulates climbing up a cliff in a mobile way.

“We have a lot of people within our school that are rock climbers, and so the inspiration came from them,” Wuorinen said.

However, the first group of people staff members want to help is composed of breast cancer survivors, she said.

“One of the things we’d like to do is get them moving in different ways that perhaps they hadn’t in the past, that they can target different muscle groups, and help encourage them to become more active in different ways and using their body in different ways,” Wuorinen said.

The students also will have the opportunity to work with different population groups — people they might not meet at NMU’s other exercise science laboratory, she said.

For instance, instead of just sitting at a lecture, they can participate in what she called “applied work” with human beings.

The possibilities for activity at the Kinesiology and Exercise Oncology Research Lab are varied, with equipment on site that includes a Trackmaster, Sport Excalibur and Freemotion Cable Cross.

Wuorinen said research projects are up to faculty in the Health and Human Performance Department, with exercise oncology a top priority. Also, it’s believed that tapping into that field in the outdoors will have a significant effect on their survivorship.

In fact, she said the equipment at the lab mimics activities that can be performed outside, with the treadmill responding in a similar way.

Avery Rochester, a senior majoring in athletic training, was at the Monday open house.

Although she is expected to graduate in a few days, she still was impressed with the new lab.

“It will definitely help with the students because we can get more exposure to higher technology and newer equipment that we don’t necessarily get to use at the university,” said Rochester, who acknowledged students take part in rotations off campus for their clinical placements.

Although Rochester probably won’t be able to take advantage of the new equipment considering her impending graduation, she was glad she could check it out anyway.

It also will help current students.

“I think it will be cool for the new exposure,” she said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.