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Research Colloquium: Nicholas Stergiou

"Harnessing Movement Variability to Treat and Prevent Motor Related Disorders"

We have a large body of research that shows normal variability in movement (in ways such as gait and posture, as well as biological signals such as heart rate), as well as a loss of this variability as we age, following an injury, or due to mental or physical disorders. In this seminar, speaker Nick Stergiou submits that this field of research is now in need of a "next step"—we need novel therapies that will harness the existing knowledge on biological variability and create new possibilities for those in the grip of a disease. He also proposes that the type of limitations in the neuromuscular apparatus may be less important in the physiological complexity framework than the control mechanisms adopted by the affected individual in the coordination of the available degrees of freedom. The theoretical underpinnings of this framework suggest that interventions designed to restore healthy system dynamics may optimize functional improvements in affected individuals. Interventions based on the restoration of optimal variability and movement complexity could be applied across a range of diseases or dysfunctions as it addresses the adaptability and coordination of available degrees of freedom, regardless of the internal constraints of the individual.

About the Speaker

Nick Stergiou is the Distinguished Community Research Chair in Biomechanics and professor, as well as the director of the Biomechanics Research Building and the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He was also recently appointed as the assistant dean of the division of biomechanics and research development.

He is the founding chair of the first-ever Department of Biomechanics that graduates students with a B.S. in Biomechanics. His secondary appointment is as a professor of the Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His research focuses on understanding variability inherent in human movement and he is an international authority in the study of Nonlinear Dynamics. He has been inducted to the National Academy of Kinesiology and as a Fellow to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Stergiou’s research spans from infant development to older adult fallers, and has impacted training techniques of surgeons and treatment and rehabilitation of pathologies, such as peripheral arterial disease.

He has received more $30 million in funding from NIH, NASA, NSF, the NIDRR/US Department of Education, and many other agencies and foundations. He has received the largest grant in the history of his University, a NIH P20 grant for $10.1 million, which allowed him to develop the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability. He has also several inventions and has procured a private donation of $6 million to build the 23,000-square-foot Biomechanics Research Building (opened in August 2013), the first building in the world dedicated to biomechanics research and the first building on his campus exclusively dedicated to research.