Rehabilitation is an important part of healthcare, which plays a crucial role in recovery and in improving the functional capacities of people with a disability or a chronic condition. It is also important for people recovering from an accident, a medical procedure or a stroke.

What is rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is a course of medical treatment that focuses on the health situation of people with a certain condition, functional impairment or permanent physical injury. The goal is to improve, prevent, restore and where possible cure their condition. Rehabilitation care is both an important and a substantial part of healthcare. In the Netherlands alone, some 200,000 people a year need rehabilitation care after an accident, surgery or illness.

Research into rehabilitation

In the past, rehabilitation research led to many simultaneous and fragmented developments. There was also a lack of trained medics performing scientific research in the field of rehabilitation. Over the past few years, important strides have been made in rehabilitation research. 

Role of ZonMw

ZonMw has helped to promote and embed rehabilitation research in the Netherlands. It has also helped to set up a knowledge infrastructure. We have launched a number of rehabilitation research programmes, such as the 2nd rehabilitation research programme and the 3rd rehabilitation research programme, which have contributed to evidence-based rehabilitation care with the goal of strengthening multidisciplinary rehabilitation research in the Netherlands, and ensuring the continuity of the research infrastructure. Rehabilitation is important to our mission, which is to work on health research, knowledge development, healthcare innovation and the application of knowledge. It helps to enhance quality of life and enable people to participate in society more effectively.  ZonMw supports research and the development of innovative rehabilitation methods. We also encourage collaboration between different parties in the rehabilitation sector, in order to mprove patient care. .


Collaboration with rehabilitation centres and universities

A knowledge infrastructure has now emerged, and rehabilitation research is firmly embedded at Dutch universities and rehabilitation centres. Partnerships have been formed between rehabilitation centres and universities, many rehabilitation practitioners have trained as researchers, and the number of professors of rehabilitation medicine has risen significantly. Besides this infrastructure, some 75 projects have been implemented on eight themes, with continuous consideration of the patient perspective and diversity in terms of age, sex and ethnicity, for example. Over the past few years, we have worked on the various research programmes with parties like Revalidatie Nederland, the Nederlandse Vereniging van Revalidatieartsen  (the national association of rehabilitation doctors), the Nationaal Revalidatie Fonds (now part of, JKF Kinderfonds, KFA, Prinses Beatrix Spierfonds, VSBfonds and FNO.

Rehabilitation after COVID-19

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been suffering very long-term symptoms, also known as long COVID. With the emergence of this large group of patients, the rehabilitation sector has become even more important. Treatment has improved thanks to scientific research. During the pandemic, local and regional care networks were formed, and this has also benefited rehabilitation for other diseases and procedures. For more information on COVID, see our COVID-19 page.  Read about current research on long COVID on the Long COVID page.



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