NUI Galway Launches High Altitude Medicine Website

Monday, 27 September 2010

NUI Galway today (Monday, 27 September) launches a new website which aims to educate travellers to high altitude and their healthcare professionals about the effects of altitude on the human body. The website was developed by Dr Gerard Flaherty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at NUI Galway, in collaboration with medical students completing the special study module in High Altitude Medicine. The website www.highaltitudemedicine.ieprovides useful information on the physiological effects of altitude and acclimatisation to high altitude environments. It also includes information and advice on the recognition, management and prevention of high altitude illness, and useful facts about aviation medicine. There is also a collection of referenced essays on the historical aspects of high altitude medicine, adaptations of native high altitude populations, and the effects of high altitude training on elite sports performance. There are also useful updates on the website on important research findings in high altitude medicine from the published literature as well as links to other relevant websites. A novel feature of the website is a video demonstration on the use of a portable hyperbaric chamber, which is a sealed chamber that lowers the altitude by increasing the ambient barometric pressure in an effort to increase the oxygen levels in the blood of a victim suffering from high altitude illness. The video was filmed and edited by the students themselves. Dr Flaherty, who is an experienced travel medicine physician with a particular interest in high altitude medicine, explains: "Travel to high altitude destinations, especially in the Alps, the Andes, the Himalayas and East Africa, has become a popular vacation option for people of all ages. The highly specialised information required to travel safely to high altitude is often not accessible to travellers or their healthcare professionals. We identified a need for a non-commercial educational website which would help to ease the anxiety associated with travel to high places and hopefully make such travel safer and more enjoyable." The website will become a valuable learning resource for medical students at NUI Galway and other educational institutions as well as trekkers, mountaineers and healthcare professionals offering them pre-travel health advice. Dr Flaherty, who is President-elect of the Travel Medicine Society of Ireland and a Fellow and external examiner of the Faculty of Travel Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow, added: "This is an example of how our innovative special study module programme at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway is capturing the imagination of our medical students and the wider public. The students learned a lot about teamwork, attention to detail, original scientific writing and responsibility from preparing material for our website. These are all essential attributes for our medical doctors of the future."
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