Rehabilitation in Chronic Internal Disorders Research Unit Ghent

This research group aims to improve physical fitness, physical activity and/or sedentary behavior in patients with internal disorders. This to improve the patient's well-being, complications and prognosis over the entire life span. To this end, we focus on (supervised) exercise programs and lifestyle interventions aimed at changing patients' physical fitness, activity and/or sedentary behavior. We aim to involve patients and other stakeholders as much as possible through focus groups or co-creation strategies.


Increasing physical fitness

In our research, besides optimizing supervised programs, we also focus on the importance of program timing (e.g. effect of post-prandial exercise in patients with diabetes mellitus), the added value of add-on interventions and program setting (e.g. community-based and home-based training).

Improving Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior

Programs aimed at (re)activating patients use behavior change techniques to guide patients towards a more active lifestyle. Tele-coaching using a smartphone application is a key focus in this.

Functional foods/nutriceuticals

Because of its positive effects on cardiovascular health, inflammation and insulin resistance, intake of flavanols is being tested as a supportive therapy for patients with internal diseases.

Populations studied 

We focus on both children, adults and elderly with respiratory diseases (COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis), cardiovascular diseases (chronic heart failure, Turner syndrome), metabolic diseases (diabetes mellitus type 1 and 2, overweight and obesity, prediabetes), rheumatological diseases (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, Marfan syndrome, osteoarthrosis)

 Outcome measures

The following outcome measures are central:

  • Physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep (accelerometry)
  • Physical fitness: lab tests (CPET, Dynamometry, Mechanography), field tests (6mwt, hand squeeze strength, sit-to-stand, SPPB,...)
  • insulin sensitivity and glycemic variability (oral glucose tolerance tests, clamp, continuous glucose measurement systems)
  • cardiovascular health (Flow mediated dilation, pulse wave velocity, blood pressure)
  • bone (DEXA, peripheral quantitative CT)
  • inflammation (Ultrasound, MRI, blood)
  • quality of life, health economics (qualitative research)


Tenured Academic Staff and Visiting Professors

Prof. dr. Patrick Calders

Prof. dr. Marieke De Craemer

Prof. dr. Heleen Demeyer

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Marie Coussens

Dr. Simon Helleputte

Dr. Jan Stautemas

Predoctoral Researchers

Drs. Eva Arents

Drs. Lotte Bogaert

Drs. Jasmine De Beir

Drs. Marga Decraene

Drs. Fien Hermans

Drs. Manon Kinaupenne

Drs. Cato Van De Looverbosch

Drs. Iris Willems