Prof. Dr. Erik Witvrouw
Ghent University, Department of Physical Therapy and Motor Rehabilitation / Upper and Lower Extremity
Since 2000, the research of prof. E.Witvrouw and his team (Injury and Illness Prevention Research Unit – IIPRU) has focused on the identification and treatment of the underlying mechanisms for the genesis of injuries in sports. Prof. Witvrouw and his group are considered world experts in prevention of injuries in sports. The group has set up multiple prospective cohort studies in different sporting populations (including S2R, military recruits, physical education students, and football, hockey, and volleyball players) in order to identify risk factors for injuries. The group consists of five researchers with expertise in measuring and analyzing potential risk factors in sporting populations. It has an excellent network with different international and national elite and recreational sports clubs and communities, who have been participating in past prospective studies. Prof. Witvrouw is involved in a project on prevention strategies in Flanders. He has international collaborations with the IOC, UEFA, FIFA, and the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center (Norway) and Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center Qatar ( both Centers of excellence in Prevention of Sports Medicine by IOC), which has increased the knowledge in prevention of sports injuries to the international highest standards. The IIPRU can offer their almost 20 years of logistic experience in organizing and controlling prospective studies in athletes. In previous funded studies IIPRU has specifically looked in the sporting population for the identification of risk factors for hamstring injuries (IWT), cartilage lesions (FWO aspirant), patellofemoral pain problems (BOF), and ankle and lower limb injuries (BOF). Currently, the group has funding for projects to identify muscle injuries in professional football players (FWO) and in adolescent football players (FWO). Submitted projects concern prevention of injuries in high performance hockey (Sport Vlaanderen) and identifying injury mechanisms of hamstring injuries in football players (FWO). Recruitment efforts and lab investments have resulted in graded exercise testing (cycling and running) expertise and infrastructure, e.g. radiometer for blood (gas) analysis, ECG Custo Cardio, Metalyzer II Cortex, cycle ergometer and treadmill. The present project goals are in line with the long-term vision of IIPRU concerning injury/illness prevention, athletic monitoring and healthy lifestyle. IIPRU research resulted in more than 160 SCI publications in international peer reviewed journals, 15 PhD’s (and five ongoing PhD’s) and in more than 10 National and International awards in the field of Sports Medicine. These previous studies mainly investigated anthropometric and biomechanical parameters. Prof. Witvrouw has been involved in several international multi-partnered projects where he was an active participant, and managed several national projects.