The School of Health and Human Performance held an open house April 30 for the NMU Kinesiology and Exercise Oncology Research Laboratory on Washington Street near the new hospital. Faculty and students will conduct clinical-based research on the value of exercise in helping individuals with a cancer diagnosis recover more efficiently and effectively. Other projects will address concussions, multiple sclerosis (MS), outdoor recreational therapy and athletic training. NMU plans future collaborations with Advanced Orthopedics, UP Rehab and Perform4Life, which are housed in the same building.
Professor Scott Drum said cancer rehab incorporating exercise is relatively new and is similar to the more firmly entrenched cardiac rehabilitation model.
“It’s been established that exercise is beneficial, even soon after open-heart surgery,” Drum said. “Cancer recovery can include fatigue, depression and what’s known as chemo brain or brain fog. Exercise helps sharpen functional capacity and mental acuity. We’re looking at breast cancer subjects, some of whom report they’re actually advised not to exercise during treatment so they don’t risk additional damage. Our big thing is getting people outside their comfort zones and engaging in nontraditional forms of exercise, such as rock climbing as a different way to engage the upper body, and seeing how physical and psychological measures differ from traditional exercise. We also want to compare the benefits of indoor versus outdoor exercise.”
The facility includes a Treadwall rotating rock climbing wall, along with virtual bikes and a treadmill that mimic outdoor environments and are responsive to changes in terrain. Drum said a major goal is to secure grants for clinical-based studies with cancer survivors.
Professors Sarah Clarke and Randy Jensen are working with UP Rehab to examine a new product that helps patients with MS move. Colleague Maggie Moore has done extensive research on concussions. That area of study will be enhanced by a recent $1 million gift to establish the Mark R. and Eileen Lovell Professorship, which will focus on education, research and patient care related to concussions.
Associate Dean and Director Liz Wuorinen said the school is excited to partner with the building’s other entities on future projects.
“What a tremendous opportunity to combine rehabilitation-type activities with performance and health aspects of research. This opens the door for reaching a wider population beyond just athletes or rehab patients, which helps us in terms of interpreting data. It also helps to have a larger stakeholder group review and interpret data to come up with different ideas for types of research programs that may not have been considered in the past.”