Improving health for people suffering from chronic pain



Research Group Pain in Motion

The PAIN IN MOTION research group comprises of physiotherapists and occupational therapists affiliated to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ghent University, Antwerp University, University College Rotterdam, University of Valencia, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Transcare Pijn Nederland.

We study the bidirectional interplay between (chronic) pain and movement.
Health care for patients with chronic pain is provided by our team in the University Hospital Brussels (Jette) , The Physio Shed, New Zealand and Transcare Pain the Netherlands (Groningen).






Human Physiology and Sports Physiotherapy Research Group



Research group Human Physiology

The research in the Human Physiology research group is focused on ‘Exercise and the Brain in Health & Disease’ where  the interaction of exercise on neurochemistry and neurophysiology is explored. The research is concentrated at 3 different levels:
- Fundamental – Physiological research
- Applied – Clinical research
- Benchmarking – Policy making research

Most of the research projects progress through these 3 levels, starting from fundamental studies (e.g. animal studies) through applied, clinical trials, which lead to benchmarking studies or to policy making advice.

Fundamental – Physiological research. At this fundamental level, animal and human experiments are combined, with measurements of neurotransmitters and the hormonal output from the brain during different manipulations. We perform fundamental research on the limits of fatigue, mechanisms of thermoregulation, and the positive effects of exercise on neurogenesis. The new research line on exercise and pollution and the brain also includes animal studies.

The Applied – Clinical aims at examining the value of the study findings of the fundamental research at the applied/clinical level. Again, all studies are within the area of exercise and the brain in health & disease. In general, the applied – clinical research is focused on studying exercise and training in different patient populations such as cardiovascular disease, obese, diabetes patients, sports injuries. Recently, the effects of exercise and pollution are integrated into the applied – clinical cluster, this way the health enhancing effects of ‘commuter cycling’ are weighed against air pollution. Linking brain research with pathologies such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is established in collaboration with prof dr. Luc Van Loon (University of Maastricht, The Netherlands). Together we supervised a PhD project which now results in research on cognition, neurogenesis in diabetics, and the elderly person. The ongoing collaboration with dr. Elsa Heyman (University of Lille France) is in full support of this project.  We are looking at cognitive aspects in type 1 diabetics.

In order to bring applied research in line with the Exercise & Brain research we created the ‘Lotto Sport Science Chair’. In a PhD project several aspects of performance and recovery are examined, focusing on brain mechanisms of fatigue and recovery. These experiments are linked with the control experiments from the Antarctica mission (2011-2012), and the project focusing on sleep & recovery, and the underlying neurophysiological aspects of recovery and (over)training (see refs. 20-21). Most of the applied sports research is in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) looking at training & recovery. Sports Injury Prevention, especially neuromuscular aspects of injury prevention, are run together with prof dr. Evert Verhaegen (University of Amsterdam) and integrating sports injuries with fatigue, recovery and underlying neuromuscular mechanisms. In 2013 the ACSM-ECSS consensus statement on Overtraining was published. This is the ‘standard’ publication which is now accepted by the two largest sports science societies in the world (American College of Sports Medicine and the European College of Sport Science) - (publication January 2013).

Policy making research. The ‘Commuter Cycling’ research line investigates the effect of cycling for transportation on health in a broad prospective. In collaboration with VITO we examine the balance between the health enhancing effects of commuting by bicycle and exercising in busy traffic (polluted air). Bicycle accidents are analyzed in detail in adult and adolescent populations in order to advise policy makers how to create a safer and healthier environment.