Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Rumbalski ‘22 (Health & Sport Sciences)

Posted Sep 19, 2022

Otterbein University believes that it is important to create opportunities for students and faculty to work together individually outside of the typical classroom environment.  Faculty and student collaborative research is one way that students and faculty get to know each other very well and these one-on-one experiences are one of the things that make an Otterbein education so special.  Otterbein recently opened its Biomechanics Institute which allows our students and faculty to work with highly sophisticated 3D motion analysis equipment and software.  Lauren Rumbalski recently completed her Honors research project with Dr. Shelley Payne at the Biomechanics Institute. Read about her experience below.

“I knew when I came to Otterbein that it was the first of many steps to achieving my goal of going to graduate school to become an occupational therapist. I quickly knew I made the right choice, getting hands-on experience and personalized education to prepare me for the career journey ahead of me. However, when I first came to school, I did not know just how unique and special my education would be thanks to innovative technology and the honors program.”

“When I came to Dr. Shelley Payne during my junior year in the honors program, I was beginning to think of areas of interest to study for my honors thesis. She told me about a new lab that Otterbein was building with motion capture technology and that this technology would allow us to dive deeper into research than I ever expected. The Biomechanics Institute at Otterbein officially opened in December of 2021, but due to the timeline of my project, I was able to work with faculty beginning in the Spring of 2021 to help to establish the lab. The Institute provided us with a three-dimensional view of body limb and joint movements, advancing past the previous two-dimensional views and technology we had prior to the Institute. Using 10 motion-capture technology cameras and reflective markers placed on a subject’s body, we were able to analyze and interpret joint kinematic movement at a precise and accurate level. Having access to this kind of technology allowed me to pose questions and research I had not even thought would be possible as an undergraduate.”

“With the help of faculty and this technology, I was able to conduct research looking at the walking patterns of young adults with multiple disabilities enrolled in Westerville City Schools’ work transition program that is housed on Otterbein’s Campus. This research allowed us to identify patterns or abnormalities within this select group, and collect information that could be used to predict injury and fall risk.  Using this technology to document mobility levels in the adult disability population was something that has not been well covered in the literature. While it was just an observational study and would require further research to further examine our findings, the experiences I gained as a researcher, student, and future clinician were unmatched. Now as a student at the Ohio State University in their occupational therapy clinical doctorate program, I have found the problem-solving skills and opportunities to have hands-on experiences with innovative technology have prepared me for this next step in my journey.”