Locomotor Lab | Spotlight

Locomotor Lab client
shares his story

Photo of Eric Lazar.

On April 18, 2003, Eric Lazar was riding a dirt-motorcycle at about 60 miles an hour. His life changed forever the instant his bike hit a rock. In the ensuing accident, he suffered injuries that left him unable to walk – on his own power, that is.

Several days a week he visits the Locomotor Lab at Cal State L.A. where trained student volunteers – all of them kinesiology majors – help him get harnessed to a treadmill and then they help move his legs in a walking regime. Lazar figures the gait they give him tops out at about 5 miles per hour.

More importantly, he said, it has restored some neurological sensation in his torso, and he’s hopeful that someday the treatments will bring him motor control over his legs.

Lazar said that the facility offers the “most beneficial treatment” he has found. “Getting up on my feet, moving my legs, it’s just bringing stuff back,” he said. “It’s just waking things up.”

According to Professor Ray de Leon, “Our students have learned a lot from him.”

Providing locomotor training to the lab’s clients, he said, is neither simple nor easy.

“It’s more than just moving the leg,” he said. “It’s very important that certain parts move at certain times. If they don’t get the right part of the leg at the right time, it doesn’t work. But, done right, it works well.... As far as I know, we’re the only ones (in the country) teaching our students to do this.”

Next summer, de Leon expects delivery of a robot that will assist the students. (It is currently being fine-tuned at UC Irvine.)

“It doesn’t replace the students,” he said. “It will just make their job easier, and they’ll be able to do it longer.”

KTLA zooms in on step-by-step progress as students push rehab in Locomotor Lab

Facility provides therapy training for kinesiology students, while offering services to the community


KTLA-5 veteran newsman Stan Chambers was on campus early this month to report on Cal State L.A.’s Spinal Plasticity and Locomotor Training Lab, housed in the new state-of-the-art La Kretz Hall and equipped with technology-advanced rehabilitation apparatus.

Basic research in the laboratory investigates the effects of locomotor training after a spinal cord injury. A current project uses rodent models to study the use of robotic technology in facilitating locomotor training. Another seeks to understand the neural mechanisms of training-enhanced locomotor recovery. These projects are supported by federal and state funds.

According to Professor Christine Dy, “Students in the School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science have the opportunity to lead spinal cord injured individuals in locomotor training, a rehabilitation technique used to retrain stepping ability after neurological injury and disease. This unique hands-on experience is valuable for students with professional aims in physical therapy and research.”

Picture of kinesiology students in CSULA Locomotor Lab with KTLA-5 news crew.
A mutual admiration society – Stan Chambers (right with microphone), lab client Eric Lazar (in white T-shirt behind camera), professors Ray de Leon (top left) and Christine Dy (fourth from 1eft in plaid shirt), students and others gather in the locomotor lab at Cal State L.A. Feb. 2, 2010.

Dy said, “With the Locomotor Lab and other related facilities, kinesiology students are able to learn and be trained, working side-by-side with faculty on research projects while providing rehabilitation services to community members. The goal is to improve the quality of life by encouraging physical activity, while documenting the productivity of these endeavors.”

To be published soon, the winter issue of the Cal State L.A. TODAY magazine will include a feature about the University’s Locomotor Lab: /univ/ppa/publicat/today/index.php.

(Be among the first to be notified when the issue is posted online, log on to become a TODAY Facebook fan.)

  • For other kinesiology community-based labs and clinics: /academic/hhs/kns/kin_labs.php

  • For information about the kinesiology degree programs at Cal State L.A.: /academic/hhs/kns/.

    Stan’s a big man on campus

    KTLA’s Stan Chambers interviews Professor Christine Dy.

    Stan Chambers began his career as a reporter with KTLA in 1947. Since then, he’s covered many historic moments in Los Angeles history, and become a familiar – and friendly – face to millions of Angelinos.

    Lately, he focuses on “people helping people” stories. This was Chambers’ sixth such dispatch from Cal State L.A. in the last few years. The others showcased jazz-tap legend and instructor Ardie Bryant, an opera student’s trip to Rome, a scientific glassblower, students’ discovery of an ancient burial site in a Guatemalan cave, and the use of robots in the University’s nursing lab.

    Often, Stan’s subjects turn the tables and begin asking him questions about his work – and asking him to get in a picture with them.