The research group of Professor Nijhuis-van der Sanden focuses on designing clinically relevant, safe and cost-effective interventions in allied health and sports. Allied health care includes occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy. Knowledge about underlying mechanisms in motor control and motor learning is used to enhance the effectiveness of exercise interventions. Allied healthcare interventions are only effective if individuals adhere to the given advise and instructions: practice makes perfect. Therefore an important theme in the research projects is the perspective of the patient/sportsman themselves: what do they need to perform exercises and to realize an active lifestyle. To realize behavioral change in both patients, clients, sportsman, allied health professionals, trainers and coaches, insight in barriers and facilitators for behavioral change in the person and social, cultural and physical environment is necessary. Intervention-mapping is used to increase adherence and self-management. Moreover, Patient Reported Outcomes are developed for physiotherapy and integrated in a quality system that can be used in clinical practice but also at a higher aggregate level.
After finishing a training in Physiotherapy and Pediatric Physiotherapy, Professor Nijhuis studied Social Sciences at the Open University in The Netherlands. In 2003 she finished her PhD thesis, and in 2009 she started as Professor in Allied Health Sciences. Since 2010 she is junior Principle Lecturer and since 2013 junior Principle Investigator. She is member of the board of the international Organisation for Physical Therapists in Pediatrics (IOPTP) and editor of the book Pediatric Physical Therapy (third edition in 2014).