Bruce Loppnow moved his arms side to side, as if walking standing still, in what seemed to be an empty room with pipe suspended from the ceiling and a tile patch in the floor. He pointed to areas on his arms where probes would attach and explained how cameras that will hang from the pipes will capture and transform motion.
The machine, in the College of St. Scholastica's new Health Science building's clinic, uses the same motion-capture technology as filmmaking. As clinic patients walk across the platform, the machine measures their stride or how much weight they put on each foot, said Loppnow, St. Scholastica's School of Health Science dean. He said the machine could help someone understand how to walk with a prosthetic leg, for example.
"It measures your motor skills in motion," Loppnow said. "It brings it into software and does this neat little model of you."
St. Scholastica plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to officially open its new Health Science building, its first building off campus in Duluth. The three-story, 45,000-square-foot structure, at 940 Woodland Ave. at the BlueStone development, will house the occupational and physical therapy graduate programs starting this fall.
The building not only includes classrooms, labs and student spaces, but also has a teaching clinic - the Maurices Community Clinic - that will be staffed by students and open to community members.
It will serve underinsured or uninsured community members, said St. Scholastica spokesman Bob Ashenmacher. If Medicare covers only eight appointments but a patient needs 12, he said the clinic can provide additional care.
"We can help that person when Medicare runs out," Ashenmacher said.
St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin, who will retire in July, said this is the sixth building St. Scholastica has acquired during his time as president. He said this building, which he describes as his "last hurrah," cost $16 million. St. Scholastica acquired $3 million for the project through a fundraising campaign.
Goodwin said St. Scholastica could not make room for its expanding programs without causing serious parking issues on campus. The college also is in the application process to start a new program.
"We are intending to start a physician's assistant program, and we essentially didn't have room on campus," Goodwin said. "This is a much better solution."
Space on the main campus previously occupied by the occupational and physical therapy graduate programs will be refurbished for the college's expanding nursing program, Goodwin said.
Since the new space is a mile off campus, Ashenmacher said the Duluth Transit Authority will add a bus stop that loops between the University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Scholastica and the new Health Science building.
Although there was a teachers' clinic on the main campus, Ashenmacher said the new space is a great improvement.
The clinic includes eight exam rooms, a pediatric gym and large areas with therapy tables. Loppnow said the pediatric gym will be used by children who need to be observed for diagnosis or by children whose parents are visiting the clinic.
Many of the areas in the clinic, like the pediatric gym, have cameras so students can observe and learn from a patient visit in other areas of the building. Patients will only be observed via camera with consent, Loppnow said.
The clinic also has a lift system to help patients with mobility issues, Loppnow said. The system's track travels between the therapy area to a daily living suite, equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Students will help community members who have suffered a stroke or accident relearn how to navigate home spaces.
Loppnow said the clinic will include more St. Scholastica students as it progresses. The college plans to bring in nursing and social work students, he said. Students in Health Information Management also will learn hands-on about charting and patient privacy.
"They'll actually learn many of the skills in this teaching clinic they'll need in their health management careers," Loppnow said.
Loppnow said the space is designed for learning and collaboration. The students in different programs will expand their learning by sharing space, he said.
"In the real world all of those positions work together," Loppnow said. "That's how real practice takes place."