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Pediatric Rehab Research Group

Die Forschungsgruppe ​ist besetzt mit Fachleuten aus Bewegungs- und Neurowissenschaften, Biologie, Physiotherapie, Pflegewissenschaften, Neuropsychologie und Ingenieurswesen.



​​26.11.2012: ​​Gabarello and co in Nano​​

​A nice, short and informative documentary was made by the German television program „Nano“ about our recent developments in combining rehabilitation robotics with virtual reality. In our Rehabilitation Center, the conventional therapy program of some of our young patients with congenital or acquired neurological movement disorders can be complemented with rehabilitation robots. During such a training session, our young patients should participate as actively as possible. This can only be achieved by motivating the patients to do so. As motivation is one of the key factors for a successful rehabilitation, especially in children, we combine rehabilitation robots, such as the Lokomat®, with virtual reality games.
The video shows how intensive researchers, therapists and physicians from the rehabilitation center Affoltern am Albis work together with game designers from the Zurich University of the Arts (department Game Design) to develop such games. Shown is the work that resulted in the virtual reality scenario “Gabarello” [Game Based Rehabilitation for Lokomat – a collaboration between the Zurich University of the Arts, the Sensory Motor Systems Lab (ETH), the Department of Neuropsychology (UZH) and our Rehabilitation Center (University Children’s Hospital Zurich)]. Furthermore, an outlook is given for our ongoing efforts in new developments.


The Fürst Donnersmarck Stiftung (Berlin, Germany) commended the PhD Thesis of Rob Labruyère entitled „New outcome measures for subjects with incomplete spinal cord injury: response time and adaptive walking“ for exceptional scientific achievements in the field of rehabilitation.
The jury of the Furst Donnersmarck Stiftung received 37 applications from 6 countries. Our whole team would like to congratulate Rob for this great achievement! For more information, please see 


​Congratulations to R. Labruyère for winning one of four best oral presentation awards at the 2nd FZK/CRC Retreat at the Tagungszentrum Schloss Au on the 25th of October 2012. He presented the progress in the work with Gabarello, a motivating virtual reality scenario for the gait orthosis Lokomat. The submitted abstract was entitled: Labruyère R, Gerber C, Birrer-Brütsch K and van Hedel H. Virtual reality influences active participation during robot-assisted gait training. Congratulations!

​20.09.2012: Collaboration for developing child friendly neuropsychological and fine-motor function tests​

​We are happy to announce that we have started a collaboration with the Dutch company Metrisquare B.V. (, who provides a software platform for scientists to develop measurement instruments than can be applied in various fields, such as neuro-psychology and occupational therapy. In our rehabilitation center for children and adolescents, our team members are often confronted with tests assessing cognitive or fine-motor functions that are not customized to the special needs of our young patients. This means that tests can often not be performed according to the standardized guidelines. In addition, many tests require a long application time and/or are boring, so the young patient might loose his/her interest, which reduces test performance.
The Metrisquare platform will hopefully allow us to develop tests that are motivating and entertaining, while taking into account the special needs of our patients and still providing us with the essential accurate information about the motor or cognitive status of the patient that we are interested in. To be continued…

31.8. - 2.9.2012​

Around 21’000 visitors joined the Scientifica 2012 to catch a look behind the science of health and well-being and experienced actual hands-on research at the science fair of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich.
Therapists from the Highly Specialised Medicine department of the Rehabilitation Centre Affoltern took part in this large event, presenting the lower limb robotic training system “Lokomat” combined with the interactive, child-friendly, motivating and award-winning therapy game “Gabarello”. This cooperation project with the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) shows how the Rehabilitation Centre research group envisions the future of children’s motor therapy and how therapy can become playful and fun.
For more information visit

Additionally, a very new and exciting research program will focus on the question how Lokomat therapy can give you wings to fly…



​On the 19th of April 2012 the 11th Clinical Day of Research took place at the University Hospital of Zurich. This conference offers a platform for scientists of all university hospitals of Zurich to present their latest work. With Tabea Schuler, Corinne Ammann, Rob Labruyère and Huub van Hedel, four researchers of the Rehabilitation Center Affoltern participated and submitted three posters. These posters presented the following topics: Alteration of lower extremity muscle activation patterns in children due to the gait robot Lokomat, mechanistic fundamentals of pathological spastic co-contractions during walking and response time measurements in well-recovered patients with spinal cord injury. 
The last poster was chosen for an additional oral presentation by the organizers of the conference. Therefore, Rob Labruyère explained in 15 minutes, why a mild spinal cord injury that allows a normal walking pattern, still leads to significantly reduced response times of arms and legs. 

16. - 18.03.2012 ​

The BrainFair 2012 (see also attracted this year about 1600-1700 visitors and many school classes, who were interested in the topic Brain and Technology (“Gehirn und Technologie”). 
At the BrainFair, people could visit presentations, discussions and workshop to experience hands-on interactions with for example rehabilitation robots.
The Rehabilitation Center Affoltern took active part in this large event, and presented a rehabilitation robot that we use for training hand and finger function in our young patients with neurological movement disorders. Therapists from the highly specialized medicine department, who work on a daily basis with this device, together with people from our research group demonstrated the device and informed the visitors about our work in the Rehabilitation Center. A presentation on the topic of “Brain, robot, child, rehabilitation: is there a relationship?” was given on Saturday by the head of the Pediatric Rehab research Group in the auditorium, which was occupied to the last seat.
Special thanks go to all the visitors who showed so much interest in our work and the therapists and researchers who represented our center at the BrainFair so enthusiastically: Karin Gygax, Silvia Oberholzer, Jan Lieber, Bärbel Rückriem, Rob Labruyère and Huub van Hedel. 

10.02.2012 ​

All of our research is third-party funded research. We are therefore particularly grateful to GE Healthcare, Glattbrugg, Switzerland (especially Mr. Pacino), who proactively donated us a second-hand ultrasound Logic 200 Pro Series ultrasound device. Ultrasound can be used in a practical and non-invasive way in children with neurological movement disorders to visualize various tissues. In our group, we need it for several research projects to determine muscle thickness and the donation of this device facilitates the progress of several of these projects considerably. ​

Therefore, our sincere thanks to GE Healthcare!