International Joint Research Group 'Move in age'

In 2016, Prof Ivan Bautmans (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Dr Hans Hobbelen (Hanzehogeschool Groningen) and Prof Sytse Zuidema (UMCG Groningen) took the initiative to establish an International Research Group with the aim to further shape the research on movement disorders in ageing and in particular paratonia. This International Joint Research Group (IJRG) ‘Move in Age’ has since written 8 scientific articles on this theme and has resulted in a double doctorate (on paratonia and Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs)) of Dr. Hans Drenth at both the Free University of Brussels and the University of Groningen.

'Move in age'

The international research project Movement-Related Impairment in Ageing, in short ‘Move in Age’, contributes to a broad and interdisciplinary approach to movement disorders in the elderly. In the first 3-5 years, the focus was on the movement-related limitations that occur in patients with dementia. The programme will be extended to include movement-related disorders in the context of other geriatric syndromes. The first line of research will focus on underlying pathophysiological mechanisms, their consequences in functional decline and the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies to counteract paratonia in patients.

Research questions;

  1. What mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of paratonia?
  2. Which instruments and techniques are valid and objective to record and measure the severity of paratonia?
  3. Which interventions are effective?


Research on paratonia should bridge different research questions, areas, techniques and disciplines. To improve the quality of life of people with dementia, intensive cooperation between different research areas is necessary.


Contributing to the knowledge of the cause, the reliable measurement and thus research into effective interventions with regard to paratonia. At present, this project has resulted in seven international publications in the field of paratonia.


Despite the fact that paratonia ultimately affects almost all people with dementia and leads to devastating health consequences and poor quality of life, this disorder is not well known among clinicians and researchers. Moreover, research-based data is scarce and clinical guidelines are lacking. With this project, we are sustaining research into motor disorders in ageing, dementia and specifically paratonia, so that effective interventions can be developed that contribute to improving the quality of life of patients and carers and reducing the burden of care for professionals.


Currently there are no effective interventions for paratonia. The IJRG is an internationally recognised group working in this area. Results from this research project contribute internationally to further research into effective interventions.

dr. Hans Hobbelen

Hans Hobbelen (PhD, PT) started his career as a physiotherapist in a nursing home in the city of Eindhoven the Netherlands and stayed at this job for 22 years. In 2001, he received his master degree in human movement sciences. He received his PhD in 2010 on the topic of paratonia, a distinctive form of hypertonia in dementia. This made him a leading scientist in the field of paratonia and movement disorders in dementia. He is since 2012 professor (Lector) in Ageing and Allied Health Care at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands. Besides movement disorders in dementia his main field of interest is frailty, in specific the multi-dimensionality of Frailty.

Furthermore Hans is member of the scientific board of the Dutch physiotherapy association (WCF, KNGF), member of the Clinical Consortium on Healthy Ageing of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and since May 2019 President of The International association of Physiotherapists working with Older People (IPTOP, official subgroup of World Physiotherapy).

dr. Hans Drenth

Hans Drenth is professor (lector) of “Short-term care and interprofessional collaboration in frail older people” in the research group “Healthy Ageing, Allied Health Care and Nursing” at Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen. His research focuses on effective strategies for short-term admission, such as geriatric rehabilitation care and/or specialized care from the nursing home for older people living at home. The aim of this is to allow (pre) frail older people to continue living at home longer and, above all, better while retaining functional capacity and autonomy. Measures in the field of exercise, nutrition and in the psychosocial domain are important strategies to influence the process of frailty. A broad, integrated approach and interprofessional collaboration is essential.

Hans is specialized in motor function of older people and people with dementia and paratonia in particular. He obtained a double doctorate at the RU Groningen and the VU Brussels with the thesis “Motor function, paratonia and glycation cross-linked in older people”. From this PhD project the international joint research group ‘Movement-Related impairment in Ageing’, in short ‘Move in Age’ was emerged.

Hans has a background as a geriatric physiotherapist and is science and research coordinator at ZuidOostZorg, a care and knowledge center for elderly care in Friesland, the Netherlands.

Prof. Dr. Sytse Zuidema

Prof. Dr. Sytse Zuidema is an elderly care physician and appointed an professor of elderly care medicine and dementia at the University Medical Center Groningen. His research focus on dementia in nursing homes and more specifically on challenging behavior, pain and motor systems of dementia.

His researchgroup includes 7 postdocs/ senior researchers, 24 PhDs. He has published more than 110 papers on dementia. His research mainly takes place at 20 nursing homes within the University Network of Nursing homes (UNO-UMCG) in the Northern and Eastern part of the Netherlands.