Northern State makes $200k upgrade with biomechanics lab

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:12 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A state-of-the-art biomechanics lab is just one addition Northern State University received thanks to a $200,000 matched grant.

As part of EPSCOR research grant, Northern State purchased Biodex systems, cycle ergometers, and the equipment for the biomechanics lab. The grant came from the South Dakota Board of Regents and was matched by the Nora Staal Evert Foundation.

The biomechanics lab uses motion-capture cameras to track the speed, velocity, acceleration and force in an athlete’s body. This not only can help prevent injuries, but also enhance performance.

”There’s a lot of literature out there about optimal movement mechanics for baseball pitchers, for example. So now, we’re able to get our pitchers into the lab, have them pitch a couple trials, and then we’re able to compare their data to professional mechanics,” said Jessica Talmage, an assistant professor at NSU and the director of the human performance lab.

More importantly, it gives human performance students at NSU advanced technology that can take their research to new levels.

”It allows our students here at Northern to have that D1, state-of-the-art lab equipment,” said Chelsee Shortt, the chair of NSU’s sports sciences department.

The lab was assembled just two months ago, but students are already excited to get to work.

“Everyone who comes in here is super excited. We had a student, when she first walked in, her exact words were, ‘I’m so glad I stayed at Northern now for my master’s for this.’ This is kind of where our sports science field is going, and so, I’m really glad we’re able to get our students experience working in the biomechanics field,” said Talmage.

That experience could be vital to working in the human performance field.

“For example, professional sports teams, especially MLB teams, are now having biomechanics labs and hiring sports science students to come run a biomechanics lab. It’s starting to explode in basketball. Also, professional companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, they all actually have biomechanics labs,” said Talmage.

Another necessary piece of equipment the grant was used for was a new Biodex system, which measures strength, power and motion. Northern’s first Biodex system is around 20 years old, and the new system can be used on shorter athletes and subjects in research.

”We bought the new Biodex here, which allows for us to test children, test students who might be shorter for your average human. We have students interested in researching youth sports,” said Shortt.

Northern will show off its updated human performance lab at an open house on September 9th from 2 to 4 p.m, right before the football team takes on Minnesota Duluth in their home opener.