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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences

Research interests

Research is aimed at understanding movement deficits as well as the human rehabilitation potential and ability to prevent further morbidity. An intertwined clinical & translational research program me is implemented through inter-disciplinary research collaborations in the three key research areas: neuromotor control, musculoskeletal function and physical fitness in pathological conditions. 
We strive for outreach in the academic programs of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy and the clinical profession through systematic implementation of assessment methods and evidence-based interventions in collaboration with the University Hospitals Leuven (UZ Leuven). 

About the Department

The Department of Rehabilitation Sciences consists of four research groups, each contributing to the scientific knowledge in specific rehabilitation areas. There are currently 22 professors, around 70 ongoing PhDs and 10 part-time teaching assistants active in the department. The main teaching responsibility of the department lies within the Bachelor and Master (Dutch and English) in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy. The department  also coordinates the doctoral school program ‘Exercise and Physical Activity in Health and Disease’ and is involved in a European Erasmus Mundus joint doctorate programme.

KEY AREA 1: Understanding neuroplasticity and the relationship between motor behavior and brain function in pathological conditions

KEY AREA 2: Enabling movement and mobility through life-span: an in-depth understanding of the contributing factors to musculoskeletal degeneration and related loss of mobility

KEY AREA 3: Impact of inactivity and excercise training in patients with chronic disease and disabilities


Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation 

Sabine Verschueren

The aim of the MusculoSkeletal Rehabilitation research group (MSR) is to advance the evaluation and therapeutic intervention for musculoskeletal disorders of different target populations including (elite) athletes, people with spinal pain,  and the frail elderly. The applied and translational research of the MSR group contributes in particular to the understanding of neuromuscular and proprioceptive control of human posture and movement in musculoskeletal pain conditions of diverse musculoskeletal domains, including rheumatology, traumatology, orthopedics and sports injuries. The MSR group conducts interdisciplinary research using innovative technological approaches such as computerized 3D-motion capture, force plates, electromyography, accelerometry, near-infrared spectroscopy, fMRI and muscle vibration. 

For more: research group website

Neuromotor Rehabilitation  

Alice Nieuwboer

The NeuroMotor Rehabilitation research group (NMR) aims to understand motor control deficits and underlying dysfunctions of the neurological systems, as well as the rehabilitation potential of adults and children with acute en chronic neurological disorders to optimize their function, daily activity and quality of life. For this purpose, the group undertakes translational studies which contribute to understanding the mechanisms of learning, neuroplasticity and compensation. The NMR groups also engages in clinical studies which underpin rehabilitation efficacy and determinants of treatment response, incorporating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Cerebral Palsy and dysfunction of pelvic floor muscle control. The impact of research within the group is anticipated to contribute to innovation and refinement of novel applications in the clinical field.

For more: research group website


Cardiovascular and Respiratory Rehabilitation 

Thierry Troosters

The Cardiovascular and Respiratory Rehabilitation (CVRR) research group studies the impact of physical inactivity and impaired exercise tolerance in patients with internal disorders. Research expertise is present on the assessment of physical fitness (exercise, skeletal and respiratory muscle) and physical activity in patient groups, as well as in exercise training and rehabilitation programs for patients with respiratory, cardiac and vascular conditions. Patients are studied in the acute setting (e.g. Intensive Care Unit), in the chronic setting and considerable attention is paid to primary and secondary prevention of inactivity-associated morbidity. Whereas the researchers have particular experience in clinical and epidemiological  research, the CVRR group successfully implements the principles of translational bench-to-bedside research through active collaborations with various departments of the Biomedical Sciences Group.

For more: research group website

Adapted Physical Activity and Psychomotor Rehabilitation 

Michel Probst

The aim of the Adapted Physical Activity (APA) research unit consists of the study of the relationship ‘impairment – activity’ in the continuum from rehabilitation to elite sports. Minimizing the impact of impairment on activity will enlarge the social range of action (rehabilitation) and provide a solid basis for fair sports classification (elite sports). Future research of the APA unit is embedded in international research projects optimizing the outcome of rehabilitation and developing evidence-based classification systems for people with neuromusculoskeletal or intellectual disabilities. 
The Psychomotor Rehabilitation (PMR) research unit aims to study personal functioning in mental health care (children, adults and elderly- and in the analysis of physical, activity in relation to cognitive and socio-affective dimensions. Further research is oriented towards motor development, physical activity and physical fitness in persons with mental health problems. As no ‘health’ exists without ‘mental health’ and no mental health without ‘physical activity’, there are many opportunities for growth of this research area. 

For more: research group website




Contact Information


Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences,
Tervuursevest 101, box 1500,
B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium

Contact FaBeR

Head of the Dept.

Hilde Feys

tel. +32-16-329079

Department Manager

Patricia Mortelmans

tel. +32 16 3 29023

Ingrid Dierickx, Fin. antenne

tel. +32 16 3 28734