James M. Flaherty Report – Visiting Professor John Barden

October 30, 2017

Report of Professor John Barden, University of Regina to NUI Galway.

James M Flaherty Visiting Professor 2016/2017


Name of home University/Institution:

 University of Regina


Name of University(ies)/Institution(s) visited

 NUI Galway


Purpose of Visit – 50 words approx. (e.g. specific research, building specific partnerships, lecture series, etc)

The purpose of my visit was to collaborate with colleagues in the School of Engineering & Informatics (Prof. Gearóid ÓLaighin) and School of Medicine (Dr. Leo Quinlan) to work on research in the area of gait variability and pathological gait. In addition to the development of several new collaborative research projects, I benefitted from learning about User-Centred Design principles and electrical stimulation of gait in Parkinson’s disease while sharing my knowledge about biomechanics and gait variability assessment.


Visit Details, including (as applicable)

  • A project was initiated in which the principles of User-Centred Design will be used to further develop the prototype gait variability iPhone app (Gait Doctor©) I created to assess gait in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease (PD).
  • A collaborative research project was developed that will involve testing of a sensory electrical stimulation device (CueStim developed by NUI Galway) on patients with Parkinson’s disease at the University of Regina.
  • Several grant applications for collaborative research projects were prepared and submitted (assessment of gait variability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, assessment of gait variability using rhythmic auditory stimulation in Parkinson’s disease and development of an integrated wearable sensor system to enhance quality of life in persons with Parkinson’s disease).


Research & development conducted

I conducted background research into User-Centred Design (essentially reviewing all relevant literature) and developed a process (research proposal) in which these principles will be applied to the development of my gait variability app so that it can be used for clinical assessment.


Lectures, seminars, talks, events

I presented the James Flaherty Lecture entitled “Walking to the Beat of a Different Drummer: Using New Technology to Quantify Patterns of Locomotion for the Assessment & Treatment of Disease” to students, faculty and members of the general public (including the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers) at NUI Galway on Dec. 6, 2016.


Experimental procedures & results, if applicable

I received training in User-Centred Design (UCD) and learned about the various projects being conducted by NUI Galway in which these principles were being applied. UCD is more of a process than an experimental procedure, but was invaluable in terms of the future direction of my research.


Contacts made

  • Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor, School of Engineering & Informatics, NUI Galway
  • Leo Quinlan, Lecturer, School of Medicine, NUI Galway
  • Peter McHugh, Head, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering & Informatics, NUI Galway
  • Richie Harte, PhD Student, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering & Informatics, NUI Galway
  • Sean Keane, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering & Informatics, NUI Galway
  • James J. Browne, President, NUI Galway
  • Kevin M. Vickers, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland


Other notes, if applicable

The hospitality and level of support provided by NUI Galway were outstanding. I had everything I needed to do my research and the working environment was such that I was able to achieve an effective balance between interactive and independent research time.


Future Continuing Collaboration (opportunities/plans)

 The following continuing collaborations have been planned:

  • The University of Regina and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region are currently finalizing collaboration and non-disclosure agreements with NUI Galway for the purpose of conducting a study on sensory electrical stimulation of gait in Parkinson’s disease (to be conducted in Regina).
  • A grant application was submitted (Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation Collaborative Innovation Development Grant, due Dec. 7, 2016) to investigate the relationship between gait variability and disease severity in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
  • A grant application is being prepared (due Feb. 1, 2017) for submission to the Parkinson’s Society of Canada to investigate the effects of rhythmic auditory stimulation on gait variability in Parkinson’s disease.
  • A grant application is being prepared (due Jan. 31, 2017) for submission to the EU Horizon 2020 Project Scheme entitled “SMART COACH FOR PWP: Integrated Wearable Coaching System to Enhance Quality of Life in Persons with Parkinson’s disease.



I am extremely grateful to ICUF for providing me with the opportunity to travel to Ireland to work with Prof. ÓLaighin and Dr. Quinlan. They both plan to travel to Regina in 2017 to provide training for the Parkinson’s electrical stimulation study and to continue the work that was started. I am confident that the partnership that has been developed will be ongoing and will produce many successful grant applications and research publications in the near future. It should also be noted that the level of financial support provided by ICUF was excellent (i.e., it was an expensive venture particularly re: the exchange between the Euro and the CDN dollar) and I am grateful to ICUF for providing a scholarship that was sufficient to meet the demands of all the expenses that were incurred.