Research Physiotherapy Occupational Therapy

Our research focuses on (Early-) Rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise training and applied movement sciences (kinesiology) in patients with acute and chronic disease (e.g.: tablet computer based training programs as well as training programs with technical (gaming) applications. In addition, our methodological studies investigate the properties of measuring instruments.

Physical and occupational therapy research at USZ is incorporated in the Directorate of Research and Education (Director Prof. Dr. Gabriela Senti). There is a close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Eling D. de Bruin (Karolinska Institute, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Physiotherapy & ETH Zurich, D-HEST, Institute of Movement Sciences and Sports), as well as with Prof. Dr. Rob A. de Bie (Maastricht University, Department of Epidemiology, Maastricht NL.

Research team

Rudolf Knols, Dr. phil.

Leiter Forschungszentrum Physio&Ergo

Tel. +41 44 255 88 09

Simone Huber

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

Tel. +41 43 253 14 80

Rahel Frohofer

Fachbereichsexpertin Therapie
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

Specialties: ,


  • Simone K. Huber, Ruud. H. Knols, Patrick Arnet, Eling. D. de Bruin. Motor-cognitive intervention concepts can improve gait in chronic stroke, but their effect on cognitive functions is unclear: A systematic review with meta-analyses.
  • Pierrette Baschung Pfister. Blended Therapy. An innovative approach to implement and promote adherence to physical exercise training in patients with Inflammatory Myopathy. Doctoral Thesis. Printed and Published by ProefschriftMaken, De Bilt, The Netherlands. ISBN 978-94-6423-243-1.
  • Huber SK, Held JP, de Bruin ED, Knols RH.  Personalized motor-cognitive exergame training in chronic stroke patients -A feasibility study” Front. Aging Neurosci, 20 October 2021.
  • Manser P, Thalmann M, Adcock M, Knols RH, de Bruin ED. Can Reactivity of Heart Rate Variability be a Potential Biomarker and Monitoring Tool to Promote Healthy Ageing? A Systematic Review with Meta-Analyses” Frontiers of Neuroscience. Front. Physiol., 29 July 2021.
  • Meinke A, Peeters R, Knols RH, Karlen W, Swanenburg J. Exergaming Using Postural Feedback From Wearable Sensors and Exercise Therapy to Improve Postural Balance in People With Nonspecific Low Back Pain: Protocol for a Factorial Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Res Protoc. 2021 Aug 26;10(8):e26982. doi: 10.2196/26982. PMID: 34435954.
  • Baumgartner R, Jordan S, Distler O, Baschung Pfister P, Maurer B.  Diagnostic measures for patients with systemic sclerosis-associated myopathy” Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. Jul-Aug 2021;39 Suppl 131(4):85-93.  Epub 2021 Jul 15.
  • Pfister, P.B., Knols, R.H., de Bie, R.A. et al. Feasibility of a blended therapy approach in the treatment of patients with inflammatory myopathies. Arch Physiother 11, 14 (2021).

  • Sterkele I, Baschung Pfister P, Knols RH, de Bruin ED. Eine Alternative zur klassischen Testtheorie? Eine exemplarische Anwendung der Generalisierbarkeitstheorie auf der Basis von Sekundärdaten. Physioscience. physioscience 2021; 17(01): 25-33.
  • Baschung Pfister P, Tobler B, Knols RH, de Bruin ED, de Bie RA. Usability and acceptance of an interactive tablet-based exercise application: a mixed methods study. Front. Digit. Health, 28 October 2020
  • Swanenburg J, Büchi F, Straumann D, Weber KP, de Bruin ED.
    Exergaming with promoted head turns improves cumulative overt saccades amplitudes in patients with chronic peripheral unilateral vestibular hypofunction. Frontiers in Neurology:
  • Baschung Pfister P, Sterkele I, Keller C Trevisan, de Bruin ED. Entwicklung eines Trainingsleitfadens für Patientinnen und Patienten mit einer entzündlichen Muskelerkrankung. (Development of an Exercise Guideline for Patients with Myositis). Physio Science 2020; 16(01): 16-25
    doi: 10.1055/a-1075-3963.

  • Knols R, Hellweg S., Häni N., Manettas A., Brugger P., de Bruin ED. Zusammenfassung, Replizierbarkeit und methodologische Qualität von Frühmobilisation im Akutkrankenhaus bei Patienten mit Schädelhirntrauma. Eine systematische Literaturübersicht. Physioscience 2019 Dec;(15/4): 164-172.
  • Rebsamen S, Knols RH, Pfister PB, de Bruin ED. Exergame-Driven High-Intensity Interval Training in Untrained Community Dwelling Older Adults: A Formative One Group Quasi- Experimental Feasibility Trial. Front Physiol. 2019 Aug 7;10:1019. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01019. eCollection 2019.
    Forschungspreis Reha Rheinfelden 2019.
  • Baschung Pfister P, de Bruin ED, Bastiaenen CHG, Maurer B, Knols RH. Reliability and validity of the German version of the Myositis Activities Profile (MAP) in patients with inflammatory myopathy. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 3;14(6):e0217173. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217173. eCollection 2019.

  • Bernadette C. Tobler-Ammann, Andrea Weise, Ruud H. Knols, Martin J Watson, Judith Sieben, Eling D. de Bruin. From unawareness to emergent awareness: experiences of stroke patients with unilateral spatial neglect near the end of inpatient rehabilitation. Disabil Rehabil. 2018 Nov 22:1-10. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1531150.
  • Langenfeld A, Bohlender JE, Swanenburg J, Brockmann-Bauser M. Cervical Spine Disability in Correlation with Subjective Voice Handicap in Patients With Voice Disorders: A Retrospective Analysis. J Voice. 2018 Dec 12. pii: S0892-1997(18)30293-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.10.013.
  • Buhl C., Artemiev D., Pfiffner F., Swanenburg J., Veraguth D., Röösli C., Huber A., Dalbert A. Dynamic Postural Stability and Hearing Preservation after Cochlear Implantation. Audiol Neurootol. 2018;23(4):222-228. doi: 10.1159/000494247. Epub 2018 Nov 14.
  • Swanenburg J, Wild K, Straumann D, de Bruin ED. Exergaming in a Moving Virtual World to Train Vestibular Functions and Gait; a Proof-of-Concept-Study with Older Adults. Front Physiol. 2018 Jul 31;9:988. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00988. eCollection 2018.
  • Knols. R. Fischer N, Kohlbrenner D, Manettas A, de Bruin ED. Physical exercise in Lung Transplant candidates and recipients.  Systematic Review of the Reporting of Methodological Quality, FITT Components, and Program Intervention Details. Front Physiol. 2018 Jul 20;9:946. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00946. eCollection 2018.
  • Baschung Pfister P, de Bruin ED, Sterkele I, Maurer B, Knols RH: Intra- and Inter-Tester Reliability of Manual Muscle Testing and a Hand-Held Dynanometer in Patients with Inflammatory Myositis. PLoS One. 2018 Mar 29;13(3):e0194531. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194531. eCollection 2018.
  • Knols R & Swanenburg J. Eine Spielkonsole am Fussende des Spitalbetts. Physioactive 2018/2 S59-60.
  • De Bruin ED, Knols RH, Stoller, O. Grundlagen zu Intervention und Unterstützungsmaßnahmen Grenzen, Kompensation und Assistenzsysteme.: Möglichkeiten und Limitationen. In: Prof. Dr. Urs Granacher / Prof. Dr. Heinz Mechling / Univ.-Prof. Dr. Claudia Voelcker-Rehage. Handbuch Bewegungs- und Sportgerontologie. Beiträge zur Lehre und Forschung im Sport Band 194. Prof. Dr. Urs Granacher / Prof. Dr. Heinz Mechling / Univ.-Prof. Dr. Claudia Voelcker-Rehage. ISBN 978-3-7780-4940-2, Januar 2018.
  • Doctoral Thesis
    Bernadette C. Tobler Ammann. Treatment and assessment tools for stroke patients with and without visuo-spatial neglect. Doctotal Thesis. Published by Datawise, University Pers Maastricht. ISBN 978-94-62333-4.

  • Swanenburg J, Bäbler E, Adelsberger R, Straumann D, de Bruin ED.
    Patients with vestibulopathy and healthy controls exhibit differences in gaze and gait behavior when walking on stairs and ramps.
    Published in PLOS ONE on 18.12.2017
  • Knols RH, Swanenburg J, De Bon D, Gennaro F, Wolf M, Krueger B, Bettex D, de Bruin ED. Investigating the usability and acute effects of a bedside video console to prefrontal cortical activity alterations: A preclinical study in healthy elderly.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience, Manuscript ID: 291974
  • Hilfiker R, Meichtry A, Eicher M, Nilsson Balfe L, Knols RH, Verra ML, Taeymans J: Exercise and other non-pharmaceutical interventions for cancer-related fatigue in patients during or after cancer treatment: a systematic review incorporating an indirect-comparisons meta-analysis.
    Br J Sports Med. 2017 May 13. pii: bjsports-2016-096422. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096422.
  • Uster A, Ruehlin. R, Mey S, Gisi D, Knols R, Imoberdorf R, Pless M, Ballmer P. Effects of nutrition and physical exercise intervention in palliative cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial”
    Clin Nutr. 2017,Jun 8. pii: S0261-5614(17)30201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.05.027.
  • Tobler-Ammann B, Surer E, de Bruin ED, Rabuffetti M, Borghese A, Mainetti R, Pirovano M, Wittwer L, Knols RH. Exergames to explore the hemineglected space in stroke patients with visuo-spatial neglect: a feasibility stud.
    JMIR Serious Games. 2017 Aug 25;5(3):e17. doi: 10.2196/games.7923.
  • Tobler-Ammann B, Surer E, Knols RH, Borghese NA, de Bruin ED.  Exergames aimed at enhancing exploration of hemineglected space in stroke patients with visuo-spatial neglect: users’ perspectives.
    JMIR Serious Games. 2017 Aug 25;5(3):e18. doi: 10.2196/games.8013.
  • Tschanz K, Zehnder T, Tobler-Ammann B. Medizinische Klinik Zusammenhang des „Montreal Cognitive Assessment“ (MoCA) mit alltagsrelevanten Fertigkeiten – eine Pilotstudie mit Klienten nach Schlaganfall.
    Ergoscience 2017; 12(3): 114-121.
  • Baschung Pfister P, Sterkele I. Physikalische Trainingsprinzipien bei entzündliche Muskelerkrankzngen.
    Rheuma Schweiz, Fortbildung und Information für Fachleute. 2017; 4 (7):39-42.
  • M. Verra, H. van Hedel, J. Swanenburg, R. Knols. Clinical Research Forum: Bericht zur Ausgabe 2016 und Ausblick zur 12. Ausgabe am 4. November 2017. Physioscience 2017; 13: 143-144.
  • Swanenburg J, Zurbrugg A, Straumann A, Hegemann S, Palla A, de Bruin ED. A pilot study investigating the association between chronic bilateral vestibulopathy and components of a clinical functional assessment tool. Physiother Theory Pract. 2017 Jun;33(6):454-461. doi:10.1080/09593985.2017.1323362.

  • Schmidheiny A, Swanenburg J, Straumann D, de Bruin ED, Knols RH. Discriminant validity and test re-test reproducibility of a gait assessment in patients with vestibular dysfunction.
    BMC Ear Nose Throat Disord. 2015 Oct 22;15:6.
  • Baschung Pfister P, de Bruin ED, Tobler-Ammann BC, Maurer B, Knols RH.
    The relevance of applying exercise training principles when designing therapeutic interventions for patients with inflammatory myopathies: a systematic review.
    Rheumatol. Int. 2015 Aug 14. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Swanenburg J, Mittaz Hager AG, Nevzati A, Klipstein A.
    Identifying fallers and nonfallers with the maximal base of support width (BSW): a one-year prospective study.
    J Aging Phys Act. 2015 Apr 23(2):200-4.

  • Ammann BC, Knols RH, Baschung P, de Bie RA, de Bruin ED.4
    Application of principles of exercise training in sub-acute and chronic stroke survivors: a systematic review.
    BMC Neurol. 2014 Aug 22;14:167.
  • Swanenburg J, Hegemann SC, Zurbrugg A, Palla A, de Bruin ED.
    Reliability and validity of the extended timed-get-up-and-go test in patients with bilateral vestibular loss.
    NeuroRehabilitation. 2014;34(4):799-807.