Rehabilitation Medicine

Theme 1: Rehabilitation: optimizing recovery and functioning of people with chronic conditions

Prof dr. Gerard Ribbers , Dr. Majanka Heijenbrok-Kal

The research of the Dept. of Rehabilitation Medicine is organized in close collaboration with Rijndam Rehabilitation Center. Rehabilitation Medicine focuses on the consequences of chronic conditions, e.g. in the areas of motor control, cognition and communication. Within Erasmus MC research focuses on acquired brain disorders (e.g. stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, spinal cord injury) and congenital brain disorders (cerebral palsy). The research of the department aims to optimize diagnosis and personalized treatment of motor disabilities caused by brain disorders by means of excellent research, education and patient care. Research of the Department is characterized by being clinically- and technology-oriented; for example, by developing, validating and applying (new) technology (e.g. by collaboration with partners in the Medical Delta).

Subtheme 1: Recovery after acquired brain injury

Prof. dr. G. Ribbers, Dr. R. Selles, Dr. J. Bussmann;

Acquired brain injury, especially stroke and traumatic brain injury, occur frequently and the consequences of these chronic disorders are seen as one of the most expensive for our society. Care of these patients involves care from many different professionals (neurologists, rehabilitation physicians, geriatric physicians, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, nurses, home care, etc).

Expected potential of recovery for individual patients is essential for adequate care (e.g., focusing on recovery of compensation) and discharge policy (e.g., preparations for a return to home or for example a nursing home). However, personalized and patient-centered targeting of care and policy of these patients is presently hampered by a lack of insight by clinicians into the expected recovery of patients.

Research within this theme focusses on improving the care and recovery of patients with acquired brain along two lines:

  • First, we develop knowledge about functional prognosis and preferred discharge strategy by sharing data early after brain injury, provide patients and their caregivers information in current chain of different services and settings. In particular sharing the existing and newly collected ‘big data’ creates a new platform for patient-specific dynamic prediction modeling to create an update on the individual prediction of outcome at any time during the treatment process in any setting based on the most recent assessment of the patient.
  • Second, we develop new patient- specific interventions to improve recovery after stroke, focusing amongst others and brain stimulation and on motion analysis-based feedback on activity. These studies include both randomized controlled trials as well as more pragmatic observational study designs.

Subtheme 2: Optimizing physical behaviour and fitness in chronic conditions

Dr. J. Bussmann, Dr. R. van den Berg-Emons

The general aim of research within this subtheme is to optimize treatment of persons with a chronic physical condition, with physical behaviour (~physical activity, sedentary behaviour, arm-hand use) and fitness as central topics, aiming to improve health, social participation and quality of life. The focus of this research is understanding the consequences of chronic conditions on physical behaviour and fitness, the development and validation of objective devices and outcomes related to physical behaviour and fitness, and the development and evaluation of treatment strategies, such as exercise and lifestyle programs This research is characterized by its translational character (from physiological outcomes, via physical behaviour, towards social participation and quality of life), its technology-driven orientation, and by its relevance for and focus on several patient groups in which physical behaviour/fitness is a main topic (e.g. stroke, spinal cord injury, CP, MS, cardiovascular disease).

Subtheme 3. Transition & Lifespan

Dr. M. Roebroeck, Dr. R. van den Berg-Emons

The focus of this subtheme are the long-term consequences of peri-natal neurological disorders, such as Cerebral Palsy. Research within this theme takes place within national and international consortia. For example, within the Dutch Perrin+ research consortium the developmental trajectories of children with Cerebral Palsy are studied, with special focus on social participation and quality of life. In another Dutch consortium, TransitieNet, aims at improving and evaluating rehabilitation care of young adults with disabilities.