BY DALZIEL SOTO
2011 CSU Student Research Competition Winner, First Place
2012 CSUSM Student Research Competition Finalist
I have found that participating in research has greatly affected all aspects of my academic life. Research brings you so close to the edge of what is known and unknown that it can become exciting to discover the expected or even unexpected results. In the process of discovering these results, so much is learned and applied from your classes you never would have thought were important. Because of my experiences, I plan on entering graduate school to pursue a career researching limb neuroprosthetics that can be used to help amputated military veterans.
About my Research
Working with my mentor and advisor Dr. Jeff Nessler, I have had great opportunities at CSUSM in performing research on spinal cord injury locomotor rehabilitation using an animal model. This research is extremely important due to the limited mobility a spinal cord injury survivor has, as well as the laborious effort required of therapists in order to manually train a patient.
The purpose of my most recent study was to determine changes in stepping behavior that may be related to changes in trunk orientation, rather than changes in load related sensory information. This is important because trunk orientation has been largely ignored in spinal cord injury research even though trunk orientation changes are caused by concomitant changes in body weight support, which is used in all types of locomotor rehabilitation today.
From this study, I learned that trunk orientation plays a crucial role in modulating specific aspects of stepping behavior attributed to a mechanism involving the stretching of the hip flexor muscles and tendons during locomotion. With this new understanding, future research may further investigate the combinatory roles of load and trunk orientation on stepping behavior to develop more efficient locomotor rehabilitation techniques that can be translated for use in humans with spinal cord injury.
Dalziel Soto is among the twelve finalists representing CSUSM at the 26th annual statewide Student Research Competition held at CSU Long Beach on May 4-5. Hear firsthand how his research is leading to new discoveries, positively impacting his education and propeling him toward his future aspirations.