‘Taking the pain out of work’: Promising results from ongoing back pain rehabilitation trial at NUI Galway

‘Taking the pain out of work’: Promising results from ongoing back pain rehabilitation trial at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Interim findings from the HRB-funded ‘Pain Disability Prevention Trial’, currently running at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, shows promising results for people with back pain.  The researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of an active rehabilitation programme which allows patients who are off work due to back pain, the opportunity to attend 10 free one-to-one sessions with a Clinical Psychologist trained in pain rehabilitation.  The aims of the sessions are to help patients to gradually increase their level of activity and return to work.   Sessions focus on a range of pacing techniques, cognitive therapy to identify any unhelpful thinking patterns and the development of activity goals, stretches and exercising to improve physical function. Miriam Raftery, researcher at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, says “The initial trends show that those who took part in the rehabilitation sessions had improvements in overall level of functioning and activity levels as well as significant reductions in stress and anxiety, compared to those who didn’t take part in the programme.  This suggests that the active rehabilitation programme may be beneficial in improving overall quality of life among those with back pain.” Sue, 54, from Limerick, who took part in the free sessions earlier this year, says:  “The sessions helped me to structure my day, and acknowledge completed tasks.  It helped me realise that prior to the sessions every day was more or less the same.  I am now back to full time employment after four years.  I think the programme really helped me with this.” Tom, 37, from Galway, says: “I found the programme very beneficial and was very helpful to have the set appointment every week.  I will miss the sessions enormously.” Researchers are still recruiting people to take part in this trial in Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Limerick, Cork and Dublin.  All appointments take place locally in each region.  The researchers are interested in hearing from people who are unable to work or are on reduced work hours due to back pain. Lead researcher Dr Brian McGuire, NUI Galway, said: “We are very encouraged with the early results of this programme, it has made a significant difference in the activity levels of a number of people with chronic pain.” For further information about taking part, please contact Miriam Raftery, Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, email Miriam.raftery@nuigalway.ie, phone 091 495 830 or see the trial website: www.nuigalway.ie/pdp.  General Practitioners and physiotherapists interested in referring patients to the trial are also invited to contact this number. ENDS

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Delegation from Irish Centre for Human Rights calls for Human-Rights Based Approach to Development

Delegation from Irish Centre for Human Rights calls for Human-Rights Based Approach to Development-image

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A delegation from NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights will appear today before the Irish Parliamentary Committee on Africa, to make the case for a rights-based approach to development assistance. The group will call on Ireland to fulfil its international legal obligations by adopting an ethical investment strategy as a core principle of its foreign policy.    Peter Fitzmaurice, Josh Curtis and Michael Higgins will speak today at the Houses of the Oireachtais, at a specially convened meeting which is expected to be attended by large numbers of TDs and senators.  The gathering represents the Irish section of AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa), which has over 130 members in the Oireachtas and is regarded as one of the most active sections. AWEPA works in partnership with African parliaments to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Africa, keep Africa high on the political agenda in Europe, and facilitate African-European parliamentary dialogue. Ireland is currently undertaking a review of its Development Programme, and the AWEPA committee in seeking to keep its members informed about development issues, invited the members from the Irish Centre for Human Rights to make their presentation.  Speaking before the Committee met, Michael Higgins, a graduate from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Ireland can be justifiably proud of its tradition of helping others, but it now risks losing this legacy. Ireland forms part of the Nordic Plus group, a set of countries universally acknowledged as the international development agencies that lead the way in terms of best practice, effectiveness and innovation. However, in recent years, while all the other members of the Nordic Plus group have shifted towards or adopted a rights-based approach, Ireland has remained behind.” “Other countries have realised that a rights-based approach offers an authoritative response to many questions posed both by the public and policy makers; how can we ensure our development assistance leads to recipient governments adopting pro-poor policies, how can we ensure development assistance is sustainable, how can we ensure the participation of the poorest and most vulnerable in decisions that affect their lives? Ireland should follow the example set by the other members of the Nordic Plus group.”    Josh Curtis, a Doctoral Fellow at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, suggested that the Irish Government must engage with the issue of Irish and EU investment policy if the developmental aims of the Irish Aid programme are to be realised and achieved with integrity. He noted that international trade and investment agreements often operate counter to the interests of developing countries, and are presently prejudicial to the rationale and aims of development assistance.  Peter Fitzmaurice, also a Doctoral Fellow at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, added that recent developments in international human rights law concerning the obligations of donor states and international cooperation mandates the realisation of a more just and equitable system of international economic governance. He indicated that donor states will increasingly contend with arguments from developing countries, civil society, and the public, that a re-orientation of donor investment and assistance policy is necessary as a matter of international law. ends

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NUI Galway Law School Launches New Part-Time Programmes

NUI Galway Law School Launches New Part-Time Programmes-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The School of Law at NUI Galway has announced six new programmes, starting in September 2012. The new programmes will be offered on a part-time basis and aimed at applicants who want to upgrade or refresh their legal skills but are unable take on a full-time course. Building on the innovative Master’s degree in Law, Technology and Governance, the School is accepting applications for: LLM in Law, Technology and Governance (part-time) Postgraduate Diploma in Commercial Regulation and Compliance (full-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Commercial Regulation and Compliance (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in E-Commerce Law (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Information Technology Law (part-time) This suite of programmes offers students an opportunity to explore in-depth substantive social issues and questions of law and governance as these mechanisms evolve to deal with ever-changing technology and rapid scientific advances. In addition, academics from other institutions and key figures in public service, private practice and national and international organisations regularly contribute to the programme and enrich the overall learning experience. NUI Galway’s School of Law offers an active and dynamic learning environment with significant interaction between students and staff. Its objective is to produce highly-skilled and competent graduates with a significant expertise in their chosen subjects. NUI Galway Lecturer in Law, Rónán Kennedy, said: “We have specifically designed these new programmes for those who want to upgrade or refresh their legal skills but cannot take on a full-time course. Successful completion of these programmes can open a number of career options. If you intend to become a solicitor or barrister, for example, or are already qualified and want to expand into new career pathways, the topics covered are all busy areas of practice and will open attractive options, both in Ireland and abroad. If you want to work in the public sector or public service, the focus on policy issues will give you a perspective which will be of considerable benefit.” The deadline for applications is Friday, 10 August and applications can be made through www.pac.ie/nuigalway. ENDS

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Microsoft Invitation for NUI Galway Professor

Microsoft Invitation for NUI Galway Professor-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

One of Ireland’s leading web science experts, Professor Stefan Decker, has been invited to attend the exclusive Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in the US this week. Professor Decker is Director of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, which was set up with funding from SFI in 2003, and has since grown to become the largest research institute of its kind in the world. The annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit unites academic researchers and educators with Microsoft researchers, product group engineers, and architects to explore new opportunities and challenges in computer science research. The event, involving 400 of the best academic investigators from around the world, takes place in Redmond, Washington, today and tomorrow. DERI’s work is focussed on bringing about networked knowledge, by developing and applying a range of web technologies and standards. According to Professor Decker: “New standards and technologies are changing the World Wide Web from a web of documents into a network of data and knowledge. A combination of technologies, known collectively as the Semantic Web, is making it possible to link that data together on the Web and to use it in new and exciting ways, and transform the Web into networked knowledge.” -ends-

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Irish Centre for Social Gerontology Launches New Report Series

Irish Centre for Social Gerontology Launches New Report Series-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The 2011 Census shows that more than two out of every five people aged 65 and over lives in a rural community. Surprisingly, relatively little is known about the situation of this important demographic group. The Rural Ageing Observatory at NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology is seeking to fill some of the gaps in knowledge on rural ageing. It recently launched the first two reports in a series that, in time, will provide vital information about the ageing population in rural Ireland. The first of the short reports focuses on key demographic trends and issues facing rural older people. The second report summarises evidence relating to income, poverty and deprivation of Ireland’s older rural population. Launching the reports, Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “More than 200,000 people over the age of 65 live in rural communities across Ireland. In the autumn, the government will be launching its National Positive Ageing Strategy. It’s important that this is a strategy for older people wherever they live – in rural as well as in urban communities. Greater awareness of the circumstances of rural older people, in particular, is essential if the right policy measures are to be adopted.” Both reports are available online at www.icsg.ie. -ends-

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NUI Galway MA helps Galway Mum Achieve Global Sales for App

NUI Galway MA helps Galway Mum Achieve Global Sales for App-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Galway mum-of-two Ann Brehony launched her essential family holiday helper app called Ireland Are We There Yet? last October in the Apple App Store to rave reviews. The idea had come about while studying for her MA in Publishing at NUI Galway. As part of her course Ann completed a business plan for an innovative publishing venture, such was the positive reaction from course tutors that she set about getting the project funded. A mere nine months post graduation an international publishing deal was secured with American digital travel publisher Sutro Media. The app has now sold in over eighteen countries worldwide, feedback has been universally positive leading to a further release on the Android platform in early 2012. “The beauty of this product” explains Ann “is that it is like a living breathing organic publication, I constantly update the material which keeps everything fresh and vibrant”. The app is a 32-county guide to things to do and see with your kids in Ireland, rain or shine. The latest version, which is free to existing customers, has just hit the App Store and is already flying off the digital shelves! The new updated app is packed with over 70 additional entries with a new layout and improved search facilities. “Through the comments section in the App, I can enter into conversation with my customers and respond to their needs and experiences; initial feedback told me that people were looking for more things to occupy teens and older kids so I was able to create a whole new section easily searchable under the same tag. As a mother of two, one of whom has special needs, I know how hard it can be to keep the kids amused all summer, this app was born out of my own need so I do understand what my customers want.” Publishers Sutro Media say: “This app is like the local cousin you never knew you had! It has sussed the best ways to visit Ireland with kids so you don't have to do the legwork;  It's like having a bunch of native kids show you the best stuff to do in this magical country.” App highlights include: Packed with places kids will love to visit. Quirky car games to keep them amused and engaged with the trip along the way.  A full nationwide listing of free outdoor play areas. Scavenger hunts and car bingo will get you working as a team so you get the most of your family time together. Improved layout with Twitter and Facebook links to each entry. An introduction to the Faery World. Listings of nationwide fun activities like Diving, Surfing, Sailing, Whale and Dolphin Watching Horse Riding and Cycling Trails. A guide to famous film locations. Price: €2.39, £1.79, $2.99  Available on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ireland-are-we-there-yet/id464158415?mt=8 Available on Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sutromedia.android.guide.ireland.kids&hl=en  ENDS

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New Book on Higher Education and Civic Engagement

New Book on Higher Education and Civic Engagement-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Higher Education Authority Chief Executive, Tom Boland recently launched a new book, Higher Education and Civic Engagement: Comparative Perspectives. Edited by Lorraine Mc Ilrath and Ann Lyons from the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teachingat NUI Galway and Professor Ronnie Munck, Head of Civic Engagement at DCU, the new book was launched following a round-table discussion on how to move forward the civic engagement agenda in Irish higher education institutions. Welcoming the attendants, DCU President, Professor Brian Mc Craith, praised the publication of the book and supported the round-table discussion around how higher education could build civic engagement. The round table included contributions from Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the HEA, Lorraine Mc Ilrath, Director of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway, Dr Helen McQuillan, Manager of DCU in the Community and Madeleine Clark, Founder of Genio and Ashoka Entrepreneur. Lorraine Mc Ilrath, Director of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway, said:“The Community Knowledge Initiative began at NUI Galway with external funding and then became embedded within the culture of the University. There are now many initiatives in the area of community based or service learning and around volunteering which are ‘making a difference’ in the lives of students and in the wider community. This work also led to the HEA funded Campus Engage network designed to promote civic engagement across the sector and ‘mainstream’ if possible.” Speaking at the launch Tom Boland outlined the new national higher education strategy and the important role of civic engagement within it. “It could contribute hugely to transforming research, teaching and the student experience. There is also a growing appreciation of the potential of higher education institutions to contribute to social equality and community development with much greater emphasis on principles of partnership, empowerment, participation and capacity building. Civic engagement would be promoted to drive this mission in a way which recognised diversity and distinctive ways of doing engagement and accepted that it could not be an add-on to normal business.” Dr Helen Mc Quillanspoke to the very real problems in driving civic engagement within the higher education sector based on the case of DCU in the Community which is based in Ballymun in North Dublin. These initiatives do have a very real impact on individuals and communities which have, for long, been excluded from higher education. But to be successful and sustainable a very real ‘culture shift’ would need to occur within the institutions of higher education. Madeleine Clark stressed the need to engage with wider social change and the creative ways in which profit-making and non-profit making organisations could work together to combat social exclusion through strategic people-oriented initiatives. She called for civic engagement ‘to become the developing mission of higher education’ and to become much more central in the work which universities to by offering a vision for social transformation. Roundtable Chair, Professor Ronnie Munck, Head of Civic Engagement at DCU concluded that more needs to happen from debating civic engagement to implementing it: “Its potential to change the culture of higher education is clear as is its increased social relevance in a period of crisis. Campus Engage will be re-launched in the autumn to provide support for higher education institutions seeking to build a civic engagement mission and to create a vibrant network or community of practice. Civic engagement is here to stay, it’s not an add-on.” Higher Education and Civic Engagement: Comparative Perspectives is available through Campus Engage, www.campusengage.ie. ENDS

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NUI Galway Workshop on Earliest Farming in Sligo and Germany

NUI Galway Workshop on Earliest Farming in Sligo and Germany-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

NUI Galway archaeologists and pollen analysts recently participated in a three-day specialist workshop at Kiel University on Neolithic landscapes in Sligo and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. During the workshop the latest results, generated during the course of a joint Kiel-NUI Galway four-year programme of research, were presented and discussed. The new results, based mainly on detailed investigations of lake cores, provide fresh insights into the earliest farming economies, the changing intensity of farming through time and impacts on the natural environment in both regions. NUI Galway participants included Dr Stefan Bergh and Professor Michael O’Connell, and PhD students Ed Danaher and Beatrice Ghilardi, who are working towards doctorates on various aspects of the Neolithic in Sligo. An overview of the archaeology of Sligo was provided by the Sligo archaeologist, Martin Timoney. According to Professor O’Connell, “The new research, funded by the German Science Foundation, Kiel University and NUI Galway, the results of which are already partly published, will ultimately provide one of the most detailed records of early farming available in these islands.” Pictured is Dr Ingo Feeser, who gained his doctorate at NUI Galway and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Kiel University, presenting his latest data on long-term environmental change at Lake Belau, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. More information is available from Professor Michael O’Connell, Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway, on 086 3891444 or michael.oconnell@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Rowers Win National Titles at Irish Rowing Championships

NUI Galway Rowers Win National Titles at Irish Rowing Championships-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Crews from NUI Galway were presented with a number of national titles at the Irish Rowing Championships in Cork at the weekend. NUI Galway, teaming up with the University’s graduate club, Gráinne Mhaol, won the Senior Eights Championship of Ireland. In a keenly contested showdown with Queen’s University Belfast, NUI Galway/Gráinne Mhaol edged ahead at 1,250 meters into the race. With only 250 meters remaining Queen’s managed to close the gap but the NUI Galway/Gráinne Mhaol rowers found another couple of gears and crossed the finish line 1.78 seconds ahead of their rivals in a confident and powerful performance. For Dave Mannion and veteran cox Ruadhán Cooke, it was a fifth Senior Eights win. Four of the winning Eight rowing as Gráinne Mhaol took the Senior men’s Coxless Four title. The winning crew included James Wall, Cormac Folan, Alan Martin, Evin Donnelly, Robert O’Callaghan, Jason Wall, Dominic Burke, Dave Mannion and cox Ruadhán Cooke. Also winning at the Championships were the Novice Women’s Coxed Four of Mary Murphy, Michelle Arakgi, Chloe O’Flynn, Anna Power and Sandra Kelly and the Intermediate Men’s Coxless Pair of Conor Egan and club captain Richard Bennett. Commenting on the success at the weekend, Ruadhán Cooke, said: “Our performances show the vibrancy of the club with wins from Novice level right up to the premier event, including success for the men, women and the graduate members. We also have wonderful people involved on the coaching and organisational side without whose unheralded and voluntary contributions we would simply not exist. Tens of other club members competed with pride and distinction across a number of events and look forward to emulating their club mates in the seasons ahead. In a year which saw the untimely passing of our great friend and mentor Tom Tuohy, it was especially emotional and fitting to be able to dedicate these successes to his memory.” -ENDS-

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Scientists Seek Sticky Barnacles with Social Media Campaign

Scientists Seek Sticky Barnacles with Social Media Campaign-image

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Researchers at the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway are hoping to enlist the help of the general public to gather a rare barnacle which occasionally washes up on Irish shores. The specimens will be used to advance scientific knowledge surrounding the adhesive properties of barnacles. Barnacles have an amazing ability to attach themselves to every surface imaginable – even non-stick frying pans – and researchers at NUI Galway are studying the glue that the barnacle produces. They hope that one day synthetic versions of this natural underwater super-glue will be available for use in applications such as surgery and dentistry. However, the species under study is the goose barnacle (Lepas anatifera), which is lives out at sea and is very difficult to find. In order to continue their research more goose barnacles are required and the research group has now launched a media campaign, including a facebook and twitter campaign, to encourage the public to help find them. A Zoology PhD student, Jaimie-Leigh Jonker, who is working with NUI Galway’s Dr Anne Marie Power, explains: “These large goose barnacles sporadically wash ashore along the Irish coast in a mostly unpredictable manner; while popular surfing beaches like Fanore and Doughmore Bay have proved fruitful in the past, these animals could wash up anywhere. When washed ashore they will die from exposure to heat, light and air, unless we find them first and bring them back to our aquarium.” Barnacles secrete a glue-like substance which consists of several proteins and somehow sticks to both the barnacle’s body and whatever surface it is on, where it hardens to form a very strong ‘cement’. “It might seem perfectly ordinary that a sea creature can stick to a surface, but if you stop to think about it you may realise that it’s actually quite an incredible innovation by nature, says Jaimie-Leigh. “We humans haven’t managed to create glues that can be used successfully in wet environments, but nature has done it over and over again.” The purpose of the current research at NUI Galway is to understand how the barnacle glue works, through examining both the glands inside the body that produce the glue and the proteins that make up the glue. “Eventually we hope to be able to create synthetic proteins with the same adhesive properties, which could be put to use as glues for surgery and dentistry”, explains Jaimie-Leigh. “Within just a decade or so the way that we practice surgery is likely to change greatly, with one of those changes being the replacement of sutures, staples and pins with adhesives copied from nature.” Jaimie-Leigh and her colleagues would love to hear from anybody that comes across goose barnacles on the Irish coast this summer. You can contact the barnacle research group at the Zoology in NUI Galway, on 091 493191 or through email (j.jonker1@nuigalway.ie), twitter (@BarnacleHunt) and facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheAmazingGooseBarnacle). -ENDS-

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