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Faculteit Revalidatiewetenschappen



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Background, vision and mission

Due to improved health care in the last decades, neonatal mortality decreased. The latter also increased the prevalence of children with motor disabilities. Mild motor problems can be seen in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). These children face difficulties in learning motor skills and daily activities. Also, in children with severe motor disabilities such as cerebral palsy (CP) or neuromuscular disorders (Duchenne muscular dystrophy), motor problems and/or pain may impact daily life and participation in various domains.
In-depth insights in the underlying mechanisms of motor development and motor learning, optimization of diagnostic and evaluative assessments can contribute to optimizing early detection and treatment programmes in these children.
Civic research was and still is of paramount importance for our research group. We deliberately chose to contribute to the realisation of Global Goals of the United Nations (MDG1,4/SDG3). Since 2008, we collaborate with the Jimma University (Ethiopia) to detect and treat children with acquired developmental problems due to malnutrition and extreme poverty. With the Kathmandu University (Nepal) we recently started a collaboration to organize and evaluate intensive functional interventions in children with CP.

Research activities

  • Research in underlying mechanisms of motor development
    • Strength and motor fatigability in arm and hand function
    • Motor learning
    • Posture, balance and postural control

Applied to following target groups:
- Typically developing children, children with CP, DCD, and malnutrition

  • Research in early psychomotor development
    • Early detection of problems in early motor, cognitive, language and socio-emotional development

Applied to following target groups:
- Boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)
- Children in extreme poverty, acute and chronic malnutrition in Ethiopia

  • Efficacy of interventions
    • Effects of integration of motor, social and physical activities in nutritional programmes in children with severe acute and chronic malnutrition in ongoing programmes of SOS villages in children with extreme poverty
    • Effects of intensive training programmes in children with CP
    • Effects of implicit and explicit learning strategies in children with DCD

Operational methods and techniques

  • Anthropometry and strength measurements (i.e. hand-grip strength measurements)
  • Quantitative measurements of upper limb function
  • Developmental screening and assessments
  • Observation and task analysis in motor learning
  • Assessments of intensive motor interventions
  • Psychometric research on Performance and Fitness
  • Psychophysiological measurements, including hearth rate variability and stress
  • Quantitative 3-D (Vicon) and qualitative posture and movement analysis
  • Quantitative (sensory testing (QST), algometry) and qualitative pain measurements
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy during the performance of balance tasks


The pediatric research group closely collaborates with researchers in other REVAL research groups (Prof. dr. Raf Meesen, Prof. dr. Koen Cuypers, Prof. dr. Peter Feys, Prof. dr. P. Meyns), other research institutes of UHasselt such as CENSTAT (Dr. Liesbeth Bruckers) and the Neuromotor research group of KU Leuven (Prof. dr. Hilde Feys), CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care of University Maastricht (Prof. dr. Caroline Bastiaenen, Prof. dr. Rob Smeets), research group Movant of University Antwerp (Prof. dr. Ann Hallemans) and clinical centers such as University Hospitals Leuven (Prof. dr. Els Ortibus, Prof. dr. Nathalie Goemans).
Multidisciplinary research in ‘low income countries’ occurs in collaboration with researchers and therapists of Jimma University (Prof. dr. Tefera Belachew, Ethiopië), PXL Healthcare (J. Valy, J. Lemmens), University Gent (Prof. dr. P. Kolsteren.) and University Kathmandu (K.C. Smita, Nepal).


Research is financed by Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen (FWO), Foundation Marguerite-Marie Delacroix, Duchenne Parent Project The Netherlands, Universitaire ontwikkelingssamenwerking van de Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (VLIR-UOS), NASCERE Fonds (Ministery of Healty, Ethiopia), and Hasselt University (internal funding, BOF, BOF-BILA  research fund). Technological support (posture research) is provided by the educational programme Mens en Techniek, Biometrie, Zuyd Hogeschool Heerlen (The Netherlands).


Principal investigators

Prof. dr. M. Granitzer
Prof. dr. K. Klingels
Prof. dr. E. Rameckers

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr. E. Verbecque
Dr. S. Mingels


Voluntary scientific collaborator

Dr. T. G. Abessa
Dr. B. N. Worku
J. Valy


PhD Students


L. Brauers
I. van der Veer
J. Hoskens
M. Goetschalcks
B.E. Tufa
M.S. Teshome