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Dr. Sara Dockrell
Assistant Professor, Physiotherapy

Biography

I am an Assistant Professor in the Discipline of Physiotherapy,School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin and a Chartered Physiotherapist. I am actively involved in curriculum development in a number of modules on the undergraduate course, most of which I am also the Module Leader. I developed Ergonomics courses for students at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I am actively involved in teaching and research in the area, and have supervised research projects of undergraduate and postgraduate students. I have been a member of the International Ergonomics Association technical group in Ergonomics for Children in Educational Environments (ECEE) and also on the technical group for Patient Handling Ergonomics. I am a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics, and Chartered Physiotherapists in Paediatrics. I have previous experience of producing best practice guidance in healthcare and for the general public. An active editorial board member, peer-reviewer and member of school and faculty research ethics committees, I have published widely in clinical, education, and ergonomics peer-reviewed journals and written reports that have influenced policy. As an expert invited to an Oireachtas committee meeting, I dissuaded the members from drafting legislation on maximal permissible schoolbag weight limits.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Dockrell, S. Forde, C. Gormley, J., Comparison of Energy Expenditure of Tasks in Standing and Sitting in Adolescent Girls , WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, & Rehabilitation, 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Dockrell, S. Hurley, G. , Moving and Handling Care of Bariatric Patients: A survey of Clinical Nurse Managers, Journal of Research in Nursing, 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Dockrell, S. Ward, M. Grimes, T. McCaughan, C. Leva, C. O'Sullivan, L. (ed.), Irish Ergonomics Society Conference. Human Factors and Ergonomics: Lessons to be learned across domains; healthcare, manufacturing and transport, Irish Ergonomics Review, Technical University of Dublin, Grangegorman, June 6th 2019, 2019 Proceedings of a Conference, 2019

Sara Dockrell, Graham Hurley, Bariatric Moving and Handling: An exploratory study of the provision of care., Irish Ergonomics Review, edited by O'Sullivan, S. McCaughan, C. Ward, M. Leva, C. , 2018, pp73 - 74 Published Abstract, 2018

Dockrell, S. Hurley G. , Providing Moving and Handling Care for Bariatric Patients in Hospital Settings, International Ergonomics Association , Florence, Italy, 26th-30th Aug 2018, 2018 Poster, 2018

Jill Burns, Cuisle Forde, Sara Dockrell, Energy expenditure of standing compared to sitting while conducting office tasks, Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, July 17, 2017 Journal Article, 2017 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Dockrell, S Jacobs, K Byrne, J Gleeson, E Kelly, S Moore, C O'Meara, E Barclay, D Rodriguez, S Kang, D Simms, C Blake C, Parental awareness of schoolbag carriage: A comparative study of Irish and United States parents, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, 58, 2017, p85 - 93 Journal Article, 2017

Dockrell, S. Simms, C. Blake, C., Guidelines on schoolbag use: Messaging to inform the stakeholders, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, 54, 2016, p489 - 492 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Dockrell, S. Blake, C. Simms, C., Guidelines for schoolbag carriage: An appraisal of safe load limits for schoolbag weight and duration of carriage, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, 53, 2016, p679 - 688 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Dockrell, S. Bennett, K. Culleton-Quinn, E., Computer use and musculoskeletal symptoms among undergraduate university students, Computers & Education, 85, 2015, p102 - 109 Journal Article, 2015

Sara Dockrell, Ciaran Simms, Catherine Blake, Schoolbag carriage and schoolbag-related musculoskeletal discomfort among primary school children, Applied Ergonomics, 51, 2015, p281 - 290 Journal Article, 2015

Burns J. Breithecker D. Mahli M. Gormley J. Dockrell S. , Sedentary Behaviour in the classroom: A comparison between German and Irish secondary schools, Irish Ergonomics Society Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin, 18th June 2015, edited by Leva C. and O'Sullivan L. , 2015, pp55 - 62 Conference Paper, 2015

Walsh C. O'Sullivan M. Purcell S. O'Brien C. Forde C. Gormley J. Dockrell S., A pilot investigation among secondary school children into the energy cost of activities traditionally considered sedentary, ISCP Annual Conference, Dublin, 6th November 2015, 2015 Poster, 2015 TARA - Full Text

Dockrell, S. Simms, C. Blake, C., Ergonomics Aspects of Schoolbags, Irish Ergonomics Society Annual Conference 2014, NUI Galway, 16th May 2014, edited by Leonard O'Sullivan , 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Dockrell S, Simms C, Blake C, Schoolbag weight limit: can it be defined?, The Journal of School Health, 83, (5), 2013, p368-77 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Dockrell, S. O'Grady E. Bennett, K. Mullarkey, C. McConnell, R. Ruddy, R. Twomey, S. Flannery, C.,, An investigation of the reliability of Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) as a method of assessment of children's computing posture, Applied Ergonomics, 43, (3), 2012, p632 - 636 Journal Article, 2012

Dockrell, S. Johnson, M. Ganly, J. Bennett, K., Manual handling incident claims in the healthcare sector: Factors and outcomes, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, 40, (2), 2011, p165 - 172 Journal Article, 2011

Dockrell, S., Earle, D., Galvin, R. , Computer-related posture and discomfort in primary school children: The effects of a school-based ergonomic intervention, Computers and Education, 55, (1), 2010, 276-284 Journal Article, 2010 DOI

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Galvin, R., Sources and nature of secondary school teachers' education in computer-related ergonomics, Computers & Education, 53, (2), 2009, p504 - 510 Journal Article, 2009

Kelly,G. Dockrell, S. Galvin,R. , Computer use in school: Its effect on posture and discomfort in schoolchildren, Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, 32, (3), 2009, p321 - 328 Journal Article, 2009

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Galvin, R. , Computer Use and Ergonomics in Post Primary Schools, Irish Ergonomics Review, Irish Ergonomics Society Conference 2008, Dublin, 8th May 2008, edited by O'Sullivan, L. , 2008, pp2 - 4 Conference Paper, 2008

Dockrell, S. Johnson, M. Ganly, J. Bennett, K., Manual Handling Incidents in the Health Care Sector: Causes and Costs, Irish Ergonomics Review, Irish Ergonomics Society Conference 2008, Dublin, 8th May, edited by O'Sullivan, L. , 2008, pp69 - 71 Conference Paper, 2008

Hignett, S. Fray, M. Rossi, M. Tamminen-Peter, L. Lomi, C. Dockrell, S. Cotrim, T. Cantineau, J. Johnsson, C., Implementation of the Manual Handling Directive in the healthcare industry in the European Union for patient handling tasks, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 37, (5), 2007, p415 - 423 Journal Article, 2007

Breen, R. Pyper, S. Rusk, Y. Dockrell, S., An investigation of children's posture and discomfort during computer use, Ergonomics, 50, (10), 2007, p1582 - 1592 Journal Article, 2007

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Masterson, B. Shields, N. , School children's use of computers and teachers' education in computer ergonomics, Ergonomics, 50, (10), 2007, p1657 - 1667 Journal Article, 2007

Gallagher, P. Flynn, C. and Dockrell, S., Availability and use of patient handling sliding devices, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 13, (6), 2006, p264 - 271 Journal Article, 2006

Dockrell, S. Kane, C. and O'Keeffe, E, Schoolbag weight and the effects of schoolbag carriage on secondary school students, International Ergonomics Association Congress - Meeting Diversity in Ergonomics, Maastricht, Holland, 9th - 14th July 2006, edited by Pikaar, R. Koningsveld E. and Settels, P. , Elsevier Ltd., 2006 Conference Paper, 2006

Dockrell, S. and Kelly, G, Computer - related posture and musculoskeletal discomfort in school children, International Ergonomics Association Congress - Meeting Diversity in Ergonomics, Maastricht, Holland, 9th - 14th July 2006, edited by Pikaar, R. Koningsveld, E. and Settels, P. , Elsevier Ltd., 2006 Conference Paper, 2006

Dockrell, S., Patient handling ergonomics in the Republic of Ireland, Healthcare systems, ergonomics and patient safety, Florence, edited by Tartaglia, R. et al , Taylor and Francis, 2005, pp393 - 395 Conference Paper, 2005

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Masterson, B. and Shields, N. , An investigation of primary school teachers education on computer related ergonomics, Ergonomics in the digital age - the XVth triennial congress of the International Ergonomics Association , Seoul, Korea, 2003, pp36 - 36 Conference Paper, 2003

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Masterson, B. and Shields, N., Computers in primary schools in the Republic of Ireland - use and ergonomics, Irish Ergonomics Review, edited by Leonard O' Sullivan , 2003, pp31 - 36 Conference Paper, 2003

Dockrell, S. Fallon, E. Kelly, M. Masterson, B. and Shields, N., Ergonomics in schools - Are we meeting the needs of our schoolchildren, Physiotherapy Ireland, 24, (2), 2003, pp38 - 39 Conference Paper, 2003

Dockrell, S. Breen, R. Pyper, S. and Rusk, Y., An investigation of childrens' posture during computer use at school, European congress on prevention of diseases through physiotherapy, Vienna, 2002, 2002 Conference Paper, 2002

Brady, A Dolan, L. Jarvis, K and Dockrell, S. , Prevalence of low back pain in nurses working in a teaching hospital in Ireland, All Ireland Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, 2, (2), 2002, p30 - 35 Journal Article, 2002

Connolly, A. Higgins, A. Dockrell, S. and Flynn, T. , A comparison of slides used in patient handling, British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 8, (5), 2001, p166 - 173 Journal Article, 2001 TARA - Full Text

Kennedy, L. Lawlor, F. O'Connor, A. Dockrell, S. and Gormley, J. , An investigation of the effects of schoolbag carriage on trunk angle, Physiotherapy Ireland, 20, (1), 1999, p2 - 8 Journal Article, 1999

Duffy, A. Burke, C. and Dockrell, S. , The use of lifting and handling aids by hospital nurses, British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 6, (1), 1999, p20 - 24 Journal Article, 1999

Doyle, A. Dockrell, S. Lacroix, D. Normoyle, P. Geraghty, D. and Prendergast, P., Biomechanics of rising from a chair: an analysis of the effect of seat height, Annual Conference (Bioengineering section) of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, Dublin, edited by Lee, C. and O'Brien, F , 1999, pp24 - 24 Conference Paper, 1999

Prendeville, K and Dockrell, S, A pilot survey to investigate the incidence of low back pain in children, Physiotherapy Ireland, 19, (1), 1998, p3 - 7 Journal Article, 1998

Casey, G and Dockrell, S, A pilot study of the weight of schoolbags carried by 10-year old children, Physiotherapy Ireland, 17, (2), 1996, p17 - 21 Journal Article, 1996

Dockrell, S. and Wiseman, J., Current physiotherapy treatment of frozen shoulder, British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 2, (4), 1995, p189 - 194 Journal Article, 1995

Hendriks, O. and Dockrell, S., Accuracy of ultrasound equipment in Dublin hospitals, Physiotherapy Ireland, 12, (1), 1991, p10 - 13 Journal Article, 1991

Dockrell, S. and Cooney, M., Injuries associated with marathon running, Physiotherapy Ireland, 11, (1), 1990, p11 - 13 Journal Article, 1990

Dockrell, S., An investigation of the use of verbal and non-verbal communication skills by final year physiotherapy students, Physiotherapy , 74, (2), 1988, p52 - 55 Journal Article, 1988

Dockrell, The relevance of a holistic approach to physiotherapy, Physiotherapy Ireland, 8, (1), 1987, p2 - 5 Journal Article, 1987

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Sara Dockrell, Karen Jacobs, Parental awareness of schoolbag carriage, Learn at WORK Webinar Series, Online, 31st January, 2018, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation Invited Talk, 2018

Dockrell, S, Guidelines for Schoolbag Carriage: An Appraisal of Safe Load Limits for Schoolbag Weight and Duration of Carriage, Learn at WORK webinar series, Boston, 21/06/2016, edited by Karen Jacobs , 2016 Oral Presentation, 2016

Sara Dockrell, Jill Burns, John Gormley, A Report of Sedentary Behaviour in Schoolchildren: A Comparison between German and Irish Secondary Schools, Dublin, December, 2014, p1 - 48 Report, 2014

Dockrell, S. Johnson, M. Ganly, J., Analysis of the Causes and Costs of Manual Handling Incidents in the Health Care Sector , Report submitted to the Health and Safety Authority, July, 2007 Report, 2007 URL

French, H. Dockrell, S. Cunningham, C. Roche, S. Cummins, V. and O'Dowd Crowley, P., The Back Care Book - A guide to keeping your back healthy, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists for the HSE Health Promotion Unit, 2005 Book, 2005

Dockrell, S. , 'Weight of schoolbags and health implications' in Report of the Working Group on the Weight of Schoolbags, Dublin, Department of Education and Science, 1998 Report, 1998

Dockrell, S., Heavy Schoolbags - Concerns and Solutions, Paul Wagstaff Memorial Lecture, Trinity College Dublin, November 1998, 1998, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists Invited Talk, 1998

Research Expertise

Description

. The key direction of my research is the investigation and application of ergonomics to promote physical health and well-being in both children and student populations in education, and adults in the workplace. My research outputs have been collaborative and have frequently been used to influence national population musculoskeletal health guidance and policy. I have consistently published my research in international peer-reviewed medical and ergonomics journals over many years. . I have researched extensively on the global problem of schoolbag carriage, and my innovative research for my PhD (2016) has impacted our understanding of schoolbag-related musculoskeletal discomfort in school children. My expertise on schoolbag issues is recognised internationally, evidenced by a significant increase in requests to be a peer reviewer for top journals on this subject area. . My research has impacted on national policy. At an invited meeting at the Oireachtas (2017) to review schoolbag load limit guidelines, I persuaded the members of the Joint Committee of Children and Youth Affairs to refrain from drafting legislation on maximal permissible schoolbag weight limits, as my research has shown that specific load limit cut-off points could not be identified. https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_children_and_youth_affairs/2017-01-25/3/ . Arising out of my research, I have produced guidelines for the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists website on (i) school bag carriage and (ii) working at a computer. . I was TCD PI in an EU-funded project (€1.3m) on school furniture (TFE) from 2010-2014. This collaborative study included researchers and manufacturers from Ireland, Germany, Portugal and US. Final summary report: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/251330/reporting . As lead PI of the Ergonomics in Schools Research Group, we were first to investigate computer-related ergonomics issues in schools in Ireland. Our research findings, based on a national survey of teachers, subsequently influenced the guidance literature produced by the National Centre for Technology in Education. . I initiated research collaborations on patient moving and handling, with St. Vincent's Hospital Dublin which culminated in publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Availability and use of patient handling sliding devices, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 13, 6 (2006), [Gallagher, P. Flynn, C. and Dockrell, S.] . My research on bariatric patient handling is the first to be undertaken in Ireland. This topic is important, given the increased prevalence of obesity, and the effects of this on the musculoskeletal health of health care workers. This work has potential to impact on patient handling policies to facilitate the safe handling of overweight and bariatric patients. . I am supervisor for a PhD candidate investigating the effects of exercise on Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS). This is the first known study to explore the effects of post-operative physiotherapy-led exercises for AIS. The impact of the findings of the study are expected to be of national and international interest and alter the post-operative clinical care pathway of this patient population. . I am Co-PI for a National Children's Research Centre-funded PhD project (commence September 2020). This is the first time that a NCRC Clinical Fellowship Award has been awarded to a physiotherapist. This innovative collaborative study is being undertaken by physiotherapy researchers in Ireland and the UK, and a consultant rheumatologist. . All of the above show the consistent direction of my research originating from my clinical career.

Projects

  • Title
    • Task Furniture in Education
  • Summary
    • This interdisciplinary study aims to design and develop innovative school furniture for classroom tasks, accomodation the latest technology and responding to new teaching methods
  • Funding Agency
    • EU
  • Date From
    • December 2010
  • Date To
    • December 2014
  • Title
    • Investigation of physical and psychosocial factors of schoolbag carriage among Irish school children
  • Summary
    • The primary aim of this study is to determine the loads that are carried by Irish schoolchildren, and to establish any relationships between schoolbag weight, the child's body weight, other physical and psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Date From
    • September 2010
  • Date To
    • June 2015
  • Title
    • The effects of computer related ergonomic intervention on schoolchildren's posture and discomfort.
  • Summary
    • This project aims to investigate the effects of an ergonomic intervention programme on the computer-related musculoskeletal health of primary schoolchildren.The project is quasi- experimental in design, using pre-intervention and post-intervention measurements of posture, range of movement and musculoskeletal discomfort.
  • Date From
    • October 2005
  • Date To
    • June 2008
  • Title
    • Post primary teachers education in computer ergonomics
  • Summary
    • This project is a questionnaire survey of all post primary teachers in the Republic of Ireland. Information will be sought about the sources, nature and content of their training and education in computer related ergonomics.
  • Funding Agency
    • National Centre for Technology in Education
  • Date From
    • Feb 2006
  • Date To
    • Feb 2007
  • Title
    • Analysis of the causes and costs of manual handling incidents in the health care sector
  • Summary
    • This projects aims to examine the causes and costs of manual handling incidents in the Health Care sector by scrutinising a number of claims files.
  • Funding Agency
    • Health and Safety Authority
  • Date From
    • January 2007
  • Date To
    • July 2007
  • Title
    • An investigation into the energy cost of activities traditionally considered sedentary
  • Summary
    • The sedentary nature of office work has been highlighted as a health risk, and strategies to reduce sedentary behaviour at work have been developed. One such strategy is the use of sit-stand chairs. This study aims to examine the energy cost of undertaking common tasks while sitting and standing and to test the classification (sedentary or light-intensity physical activity) of the tasks under the two conditions. The energy expended will be measured using portable indirect calorimetry equipment (Cosmed K4 b2).
  • Funding Agency
    • N/A
  • Date From
    • September 2014
  • Date To
    • June 2016
  • Title
    • Parental awareness of schoolbag carriage: A comparative study of Irish and United States parents
  • Summary
    • Given the global nature of schoolbag carriage, there has been extensive research on schoolbag weight and use with resultant guidance on many aspects of carrying a schoolbag. However, there is limited evidence of knowledge translation or parents' awareness of schoolbag carriage. This international study investigated parental awareness of factors related to schoolbag carriage. A cross-sectional survey using an anonymous 30-item questionnaire and purposive sampling was used. Questionnaires were distributed to parents of primary school children through the schools.
  • Date From
    • 2016
  • Date To
    • 2017
  • Title
    • Moving and Handling Bariatric Patients in Acute Hospital Settings
  • Summary
    • The study therefore was an anonymous questionnaire survey of Clinical Nurse Managers (CNM). All CNMs (Grade I, II and III) involved with in-patient care in the participating hospitals were eligible for inclusion. A gatekeeper alerted potential participants by email of the study and provide information on participation in the study. The questionnaires were distributed to each CNM office and placed in an area for easy access by all CNMs. The CNMs were requested in the participant information leaflet to complete the questionnaire, put it into the self-addressed envelope provided and return it by internal/external post tothe investigators.
  • Funding Agency
    • N/A
  • Date From
    • 01/04/2017
  • Date To
    • 01/08/2019
  • Title
    • A National Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) Physical Well-being Study
  • Summary
    • Research is warranted to establish if pulmonary and musculoskeletal deficits, measured with objective validated tests, exist in an AIS population and if they continue to exist post-surgery. This study aims to explore to what extent musculoskeletal and pulmonary deficits exist prior to spinal surgery, whether there is a change in these deficits post-surgery, and if a targeted physiotherapy rehabilitation programme can address some or all the deficits identified and improve quality of life.
  • Date From
    • 01/09/2018
  • Date To
    • 31/08/2024
  • Title
    • Development of a physiotherapy decision-making tool for paediatric joint hypermobility: A move towards targeted treatment
  • Summary
    • This study aims to develop a clinically-based screening tool to assess children and adolescents with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) to facilitate the identification of clinical subgroups and help guide clinicians to more tailored treatment.
  • Funding Agency
    • National Children's Research Centre
  • Date From
    • 10/08/2020
  • Date To
    • 09/08/2023

Keywords

Children, health and disability; Ergonomics in Schools; Low Back Pain; Moving and Handling of Patients; Physiotherapy

Recognition

Representations

Member of Department of Education and Science expert working group on Weight of Children's Schoolbags 1997-1998

Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapist Representative on the Health Promotion subgroup of the HSE Child Health Steering Group 2015-20116

Invited expert to the Oireachtas Joint Committee of Children and Youth Affairs. 25/01/2017

Invited expert to the Health and Safety Authority (Guidance on the Management of Manual Handling in Health Care) 2011

International Ergonomics Association Expert Panel Ergonomics for Children in the Educational Environment 2000-2007

International Ergonomics Association European Panel for Patient Handling Ergonomics 2005-2012

Journal reviewer for 13 peer-reviewed journals 2015-2020

External examiner Curtin University, Perth, Australia 2014

Chairperson Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists O'Neill O'Driscoll Research Bursary Assessment Panel 2004-2009

Lecturer Post graduate Diploma in Safety, Health and Welfare, University College Dublin 1992-1993

Examiner Post Graduate Diploma in Health, Safety and Ergonomics University College Dublin 1992-1993

Lecturer MSc Environmental Health and Safety and Ergonomics, Technical University of Dublin, Grangegorman. 2020

Editorial Board member of WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation Amsterdam, IOS Press 2016-present

Editorial Board member Physiotherapy Ireland 1986-1991

Memberships

Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) 1978 – Present

Irish Ergonomics Society (IES) 1997 – Present

Chartered Physiotherapist in Occupational Health and Ergonomics 1996 – Present

Chartered Physiotherapists in Paediatrics 2005 – Present