It was a nice sunny week in Amsterdam, where all the fellows and principal investigator gathered at Vrije University (VU) for the second annual training and meeting week of Keep Control project. This time the main organizers were from VU, Dr. Jaap who played the lead role in the management of different training activities and meetings with the cooperation of Frans from Motek side. All the things were well organized and everyone was aware of the whole week schedule in advance. This training week was divided into three parts: first part was technical where different lectures on the assessment of balance and management of neurodegenerative diseases were delivered by top experts in this field; the second part was consisted of different meeting session with principal investigators, where all the fellows presented their progress and discussed different challenges in their work; in third phase project management training was also provided to manage the projects in real world.
Figure: Hosting institutes Vrije University Amsterdam and Motek Company
All the fellows were warmly welcomed by the host institute with coffee and snacks. Before starting the training sessions formally, Jaap gave a brief overview of the whole structure of training activities. As this is the training network under the horizon of 2020 by European Union named Keep Control to train the future leaders in the field of healthy ageing. All the fellows will be trained for three years in different domains including the technical and managerial aspects to achieve the overall objectives of the project.
Figure: Welcome at Vrije University and fellows are greeting each other
In order to gain more useful knowledge from this training week (15th – 21st June, 2018), all the activities were linked with each other. Different training sessions each day were arranged in between 9 am to 5 pm with two coffee breaks in between (in morning and evening sessions) and one lunch break. When the training week started all the fellows were very excited and enthusiastic to learn new thing. So everyone enjoyed the hectic routine in Amsterdam. On the first day (15th June), the lecture was delivered by Dr. Mirjam, in which she explained about the tools for the fall risk assessment in the clinical settings and gave useful insight about the usage of different protocols. After that, Jap showed us the demo of different equipment, which they are currently using in VU for answering different research questions.
Figure: Prof Jap and Leila (Keep Control Fellow) giving the demo of their lab equipment
The second day (16th June), in the morning session the Claudine from UMC Groningen gave us the lecture on lab-based gait assessment in geriatrics and rehabilitation, in which she focused on the non-linear features extraction from gait signal without detection of the feature point in the walking phase. The next link activity was the discussion about a paper having the same theme with Jaap, where each fellow shared his/her thoughts about the research paper. The next session was on the assessment and prediction of the freezing of gait by Alice Nieuwboer from KU Leuven, who is considered as a GURU in this field. She explained very well the different methods which can be utilized for this assessment in simple words and focused on their sensitivity and specificity too. Lynn Rochester gave a new spark in the group by her lecture on the “Gait as a marker of neurodegenerative diseases”. Everyone was impressed by the work done in this filed with wearable inertial sensors in her group. She explained a nice conceptual gait model for the assessment of gait in the lab and free-living conditions. After a lunch break, again Jap focused on the lab-based gait assessment and discussed different ways and tools for the assessment of fall risk.
Figure: Prof Alice Nieuwboer is explaining about different freezing of gait assessment methods
Figure: Prof Lynn Rochester is having discussion on gait as a marker or neurodegenerative diseases
On the third day (17th June), Walter Maetzler from the CAU Kiel invited us at the Bakery in the early morning (8 am) to have an informal discussion about the ongoing work in different projects. All fellows gathered there and had a wonderful breakfast with Walter. In the afternoon sessions, Anaud Delval from Lille explained very beautifully about the gait initiation as a marker of neurodegenerative diseases in simple words for easy understanding. The next session before starting the meeting was by Michael Drey from Munich on balance and gait as a marker of muscle weakness and sarcopenia. Which is an emerging field in this big domain of ageing. After that, annual meeting of Keep Control was started, where all the fellows presented about the progress first. The meeting venue was Motek Medical research office. The meeting atmosphere was informal where all the fellows explained their work openly and had a discussion with principal investigators.
Figure: Madli is presenting her work at the second annual training and meeting week of Keep Control
After the presentation of all the Keep Control fellows, Markus showed us the live demo of different Motek equipment which is currently in practice or under research for further development for different rehabilitation purposes. These state of the art equipment are unique in itself and customizable for their usage under different scenarios. This is the future of healthcare, especially for the rehabilitation purpose. Further, in this regard, Frans who is currently leading the clinical application and research wing of Motek said that “modern-day physios should be able to handle such kind of high-tech equipment to cope with the modern day needs and there is an urgent need of major change in their curriculum”.
Figure: Demo of Motek equipment for gait assessment and training, showing the different walking signal and muscle forces on the body in real time
This was a long productive day, at the end of it, we had a social dinner at the Bazar restaurant where all the fellows and principal investigators (PIs) gathered and had a chit-chat about various topics. During the dinner, the interesting thing was the guessing of the watch price which is recently launched by the Xioami. That wristwatch can measure gait parameters quite accurately with other cool features which a smartwatch can have and the price is only around 50 USD. Benoit is helping them to develop a robust algorithm for the tracking of the human walking pattern. The food was delicious at the restaurant and everyone enjoyed the food with drinks. The ambiance of the restaurant made that night special for fellows and PIs.
Figure: Social dinner after having the presentation session with PIs
Next day on 18th June, we had a supervisory board meeting. After that, we had a face to face to meeting with our supervisor and second mentor and discussed different ways to take our research fields to the next level. This day we had free time and surprisingly two of our fellows Markus and Elke planned a nice boat trip within Amsterdam to explore the the beauty of city. We took two boats for twelve fellows where Chrissy (Keep Control Project Manager) also joined us and participate in our combined outreach social activity. On that day, we had a nice dinner at the Amsterdam Beach.
Figure: Keep Control fellows having outreach social activity together at Amsterdam Beach
A physiotherapist Han Houdijk from VU on 19th June explained us about the clinical gait assessment with real-life examples and explained very well about the base of support and center of pressure. How fancy equipment can help us to record accurate data were all discussed during his presentation. After that Frans from Motek explained about the high tech equipment in this domain of healthy ageing and showed us the direction of health care. He focused on the cooperation between the industry and academia to replicate the research easily to get the useful information which can act a gold standard for the clinical purpose. His talk theme was on innovation and market needs and how we can improve the clinical practices by using high tech equipment. The last part of the technical training session was based on the neurology and its linkage with the gait and balance. In this session, Sjoerd from the VU explained about the role of neuroimaging in balance and gait assessment. In the end, a well-organized talk was delivered by the Tibor from UMC Groningen on assessing the neural determinants of balance control.
The third session in this training week was on the project management from 20th to 21st June by the Makku at VU. This training session was full of practical activities where we actually implemented the theoretical knowledge shared by the Makku. At the end of this training session, we practically planned our summer school, defined the objectives, assigned the activities, and make the whole schedule for making the summer school project successful. In this training network, in order to teach the real-life lessons to the young researchers, H2020 suggests organizing the summer school by the fellows themselves. So that they can learn the project management at the early stage of their career to manage the large projects at the later stage of their professional life.
Figure: Representing the preparation activity for the organization of summer school in 2019
In summary, during the short period of 7 days, we had an exhaustive training session from the top experts in their relevant research domains. Each lecture was so comprehensive that it was equal to basic training level full course. This was a great learning opportunity for us, in which we learned many things in the short span of time. The most important thing is that all the presenters and instructors showed us the future direction in their relevant fields. What is done and what should be done in future to overcome the balance deficits with different tools and methods for healthy ageing are discussed openly and comprehensively. This training session ended with such determination that there is a lot more to do for making this world a better place for our parents and children. For this novel cause, all the fellows left each other with full devotion and motivation to work on their respective project to achieve the overall objectives for a bigger picture (KEEP CONTROL).
Figure: Last picture of Keep Control fellows after their combined last dinner
Written By: Rana Zia Ur Rehman and Keep Control Fellows