Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy

Interactions between disc degeneration and multifidus atrophy

The aim of this project is to understand how the mechanical effects of atrophy of the multifidus muscles, as observed in patients with low-back pain, interact with those of intervertebral disc degeneration. Disc degeneration reduces spine stiffness and may impair control over spine movement. Multifidus atrophy is assumed to result from nociceptive afference from spinal structures and may all negatively affect control over the spine. In turn, reduced control over spine movement may enhance disc degeneration.

Identification of trunk postural control mechanisms

In this project, we have developed methods to identify trunk muscle control based on mechanical perturbations of the trunk and measurements of resulting kinematics and muscle activity and a neurophysiological model of trunk control to obtain a better understanding of how trunk posture is maintained in healthy subjects and how this control is impaired in patients with low-back pain and movement disorders

Splinting behavior in patients with low-back pain?

It is well established that patients with chronic low-back pain move their trunk different than pain-free individuals during walking and other activities. In this project we investigate whether these altered movement patterns care an effect of splinting: an increased stiffness of the trunk through co-contraction of trunk muscles or through high reflex gains, aimed at avoid large of fast movements.

Motor learning in patients with low-back pain

We propose that pain and loss of control over posture and movement, as well as the perceived threat of these, may drive a learning process leading to movement patterns that contribute to persistence of pain. In this project we investigate how (threats of) pain and loss of control affect motor behavior in healthy controls and patients with low-back pain.

Markers of progression and early predictors in Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common condition in elderly. gait and postural control mechanisms are progressively affected in patients with PD. We use a single body-worn inertial sensor to analyze short episodes of gait. We extract signal features to objectify and understand gait changes in patients with PD, and to find markers for early detection and indicators of progression of PD.

Prosthetic and Orthotic Dynamic Alignment for Rehabilitation

The efficacy of prosthetic feet and ankle foot orthoses depends on a proper tuning (alignment) of these components to the user. Tuning involves selecting the right mechanical properties (e.g stiffness and length) and selecting the proper orientation of the device relative to biological leg of the user. In a series of projects we aim to find clinically applicable outcome measures to quantify the effect of tuning on body progression and propulsion (e.g shank-to-vertical-angle and roll-over shape). In addition, we investigate the effect of changes in these outcomes on gait stability and economy.

Balance & motor control in pregnancy related Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can develop into a chronic pain condition years after giving birth. Main complaints in these women are specific activities in daily life like walking stairs, standing on 1 leg. This PhD study will explore the differences in motor control in healthy post partum women and women with PGP remaining years after giving birth. Furthermore, it will be studied which alterations in the motor cortex of the brain are associated with these changes in motor control and how to clinically manage these motor control problems.

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