Kildare man's work to benefit stroke sufferers

Newbridge scientist featured in a new book for children

Conor McHugh

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Conor McHugh

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conor@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare man's work to benefit stroke sufferers

Donal Holland

Stroke sufferers are set to benefit from state-of-the-art research into the field of rehabilitation robotics being done by Newbridge scientist Donal Holland.

His work is being featured in a new science book series for children out this week.

Donal is part of a team of scientists at University College Dublin working on new forms of robotics designed to help with the physical rehabilitation of people following injuries or with serious medical conditions.

These new developments could mean significantly improved quality of life for patients as well as reduced treatment times and better outcomes.

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“Unlike many other fields of robotics, the aim of rehabilitation robotics is not to replace or augment human function directly but to assist with retraining human movement,” said Donal, lecturer and assistant professor in biomechanics at UCD’s Rehabilitation Engineering and Robotics Lab.

“This robotic assistance will help people to gain or regain independent control of their own body movements.

“Following a stroke, people are often left with impaired movements. Due to damage to the brain the person is no longer able to control some of their limbs to the extent that they were before the stroke.”

In cases like this, conventional rehab aims to engage the person in training exercises to create new connections between the brain and the muscle. Dr Holland and Dr Giacomo Severini have done significant work in this area.

The research field of rehabilitation robotics aims to assist with these exercises in order to improve the health outcomes for the patient and in the process to learn more about the human body itself.

Donal is one of the featured researchers in Super Bodies, the first of the four Science Apprentice series of books which is out this weekend.

The Science Apprentice books – which all feature augmented reality technology – will encourage children and adults alike to explore the science, technology, engineering and mathematics of the world around us.

Throughout the new four-part series we follow characters Izzy and Phil and the wonder panellists on an interactive journey exploring the human body, our environment, how things are made and why everything is not always as it seems.

The books Super Bodies, Up In The Air, Illusion and How It’s Made are produced by University College Dublin and partners and supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme and the Environmental Protection Agency.

This series has been also co-produced by schoolchildren around the country through interactive workshops and discovery tours.

Irish experts are on hand explaining concepts and answering questions as we delve into big ideas that are improving our lives.

Written by science journalist and writer Dr Claire O’Connell, the books open children’s minds to a world of potential careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Science Apprentice books are available to order for schools and are free to collect with the Irish Independent in SuperValu stores every Saturday in November.