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Battling with fatigue


Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and reducing the societal cost of health care. We tend to stop exercising when our bodies signal that we are tired or fatigued. Previously, it was thought that fatigue happened when our energy store became depleted or when the waste products from producing energy accumulated in our muscles causing cramp.

However, research on patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or “Yuppie Flu” has shown that fatigue occurs even though their ability to contract their muscles is the same as in a normal individual. This has led to the theory that the brain plays a central, controlling role in fatigue.

In an effort to understand this role, Prof. Christopher Vaughan from the University of Cape Town, South Africa will join forces with Prof. Mark O’Malley, Dept. of Electronic Engineering and Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin and Dr. Sean Connolly, a clinical neurologist in St. Vincent’s University Hospital.

Prof. Vaughan is one of fourteen internationally renown scientists who received an ETS Walton Visitor Award 2002 from Science Foundation Ireland to work in Irish research laboratories over the next twelve months.

“Our research focuses on mathematical analysis of the nervous system and how it controls the muscles”, says Prof. Vaughan. This type of collaboration at the interface of biomedical engineering and clinical medicine typifies the ethos of the Conway Institute.

Elaine Quinn | alfa

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