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Motor Learning in Knee Arthrosis Therapy

Research Project Develops New Treatment Approaches and Searches for Test Subjects

Training programme based on the principles of motor learning

Knee arthrosis is a degenerative disease of the joint with an inflammatory component. The patients suffer from pain and are restricted in their everyday lives and scope of movement.

In their joint project “MLKOA – Motorisches Lernen bei Kniearthrose” (motor learning for knee arthrosis patients), the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, the Danube University Krems, the Orthopaedic Hospital Vienna-Speising and the University Hospital St. Pölten develop new approaches to therapy and are looking for persons who would like to test the programmes.

Long-Term Changes of Movement Behaviours

Numerous studies have shown that training therapies have the ability to reduce pain and significantly improve the function of the knee joints in patients suffering from knee arthrosis. However, to date there is hardly any proof that these trainings have positive medium- or long-term effects.

“We suspect that this is due to the fact that traditional measures have no long-term impact on the patients’ movement behaviour – and this behaviour has to change in order to prevent the disease from progressing”, says Barbara Wondrasch, lecturer at the Department of Health Sciences of the St. Pölten UAS and head of the research project.

In order to achieve long-term changes in the affected persons’ movement behaviour and to examine the effects of training in this respect, the project team relies on motor learning. This approach aims at continuously improving movement patterns to make sure that they are economic and do not overstress the joints or follow inadequate muscle contraction patterns. Partners in the research project are Danube University Krems, the Orthopaedic Hospital Vienna-Speising and the University Hospital St. Pölten.

Motor Learning in Rehabilitation

In rehabilitation, motor learning forms the basis for the (re)learning of movement patterns following injuries of the central nervous system or the locomotor system. In this project, the researchers test different types of instructions and feedback in learning movement sequences. Two groups of participants complete the same training programme – only the types of instruction and feedback are different.

The project compares the short- and medium-term effects of a training programme based on the principles of motor learning to those of a traditional training programme. Apart from the effects of the training, the factors of pain behaviour, knee joint function and biomechanics are examined as well.

Dissertation and Scientific Cooperations

At the St. Pölten UAS, junior researcher at the Institute of Health Sciences Christian Endres is part of the project alongside Barbara Wondrasch. Within the framework of the project, he writes his dissertation in the PhD programme Regenerative Medicine at Danube University Krems.

This makes for connections between the research project’s clinical focus and the study programme concentrating on the basics at Danube University Krems which are intended to result in further research projects and cooperations between the St. Pölten UAS and Danube University Krems in future.

Project MLKOA – Motor Learning for Knee Arthrosis

The project is financed by the NÖ Forschungs- und Bildungsges.m.b.H. (NFB) within the framework of the Life Science Call. Project partners are Danube University Krems, the Orthopaedic Hospital Vienna-Speising and the University Hospital St. Pölten.

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FH-Prof. Wondrasch Barbara, PT PhD

FH-Prof. Barbara Wondrasch, PT PhD

Head of Research Institute
Institute of Health Sciences
Lecturer Course Leader Applied Clinical Research in Health Sciences (MA) Course Leader GAIT - Ganganalyse und Rehabilitation (certif.) Course Leader GAIT - Ganganalyse und Rehabilitation (MA) Department of Health Sciences Member of the UAS Board from 2020 to 2023