Research theme: Rehabilitation and Prevention


Research Theme Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is to optimize the level of daily life activities and societal participation of people who experience impairments and disabilities due to injuries or diseases. The aim of rehabilitation is to:

  • Stimulate recovery.
  • Prevent impairments and disabilities.
  • Minimize, compensate  for and/or cope with (long term) disabilities.
  • Optimize (societal) participation and well-being.
  • Rehabilitation aims at patients and their close relatives/ informal caregivers.

Rehabilitation, both in research and clinical practice, is conducted within a biopsychosocial framework incorporating factors related to the etiology of the disease/injury, factors related to the person having the disease/injury and factors related to the environment in which the person with the disease/injury is living.


Research Focus in Rehabilitation     

The research focus of rehabilitation is on:

  • Developing and evaluating rehabilitation interventions.
  • Evaluation of interventions is done from different perspectives:
    • clinical effectiveness for patients.
    • clinical effectiveness for caregivers.
    • cost-effectiveness from a societal perspective.
    • feasibility from the perspective of health care as well as from the user perspective.
  • Developing and evaluating outcome measures.
  • Investigating factors influencing treatment outcome.

Impact of Rehabilitation Research

Within the research theme rehabilitation, we study different patient groups such as people with acquired brain injury (i.e. stroke and traumatic brain injury) and people with dementia and other cognitive deficits. We collaborate closely with researchers from the school of CAPHRI where the focus is on rehabilitation of (chronic) pain and other patient groups within the field of rehabilitation medicine and rehabilitation/care for the elderly.

We conduct our research within regional, national and international networks in which not only researchers, but also health care professionals and patient organizations participate. Research output of most projects is translated into practical tools and products such as diagnostic instruments or treatment protocols.


Research Theme Prevention

The prevalence of disorders such as depression, stroke and dementia will rise in the next decades, leading to major burden for those affected and their caregivers unless interventions and prevention are improved. Understanding factors that increase someone’s risk and developing prevention strategies is therefore crucial to improve population health. Prevention aims at maintaining health and increase resilience towards future disease, and can be divided into:

  • Universal prevention: focus on everybody regardless of their risk status.
  • Selective prevention: focus on people at risk.
  • Indicated prevention: focus on people with early signs of disease.

Prevention is deeply rooted in modern epidemiology and based on evidence from both observational and experimental research. It is multidisciplinary by nature and bridges fundamental and applied sciences such as neuroscience, psychology, health promotion and public health.

Research Focus in Prevention

The aim of the prevention research is to help people grow old with good mental and brain health. To this end, we conduct population-based and clinical research into the aetiology and course of psychiatric and neurological disorders. From this, we develop new prevention strategies. The research focus is on:

  • Studying risk and protective factors for neurological and mental disorders.


  • Understanding aetiological pathways (causal models) and underlying complexity (e.g. risk factor interactions, risk profiles, age-dependent effects).

  • Identifying high-risk groups.

  • Developing tailored preventive measures, including assistive eHealth technologies.

  • Implementing and evaluating public health approaches for their feasibility and effectivenes.

Impact of Prevention Research

Within the research theme, we study the whole spectrum form healthy individuals to those with first symptoms and clinical disorders. Main sources of information include population-based studies including The Maastricht Ageing Study (MAAS), currently in its 25-year follow-up, to De Maastricht Studie (DMS) involving 9,000 individuals from the region, and the NEMESIS-I and NEMESIS-II studies, and patient cohorts with early symptoms of dementia and stroke patients are studied from the Maastricht UMC Memory Clinic and the Stroke Unit. Members of the research line are part of steering committees and advisory boards of several international consortia.

We collaborate closely with researchers from other research schools at the Maastricht UMC+ (CARIM, CAPHRI, NUTRIM, GROW) and other Dutch UMCs, and with local and national stakeholders such as the municipal health services (GGDs), the Dutch Alzheimer Society (Alzheimer Nederland) and the Dutch Brain Foundation (Hersenstichting).