prof. dr. Mirjam Pijnappels


  • Phone+31 20 5988467
  • van der Boechorststraat 7

    1081 BT Amsterdam



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Personal profile


Mobility in Aging

My research aims are to understand the effects of ageing on neuromuscular and cognitive aspects of mobility (i.e., physical function and physical activity) and to implement this knowledge with assistive technology to maintain and promote mobility of older individuals in their own environment.
The approaches for these aims are experimental studies (neuromuscular and biomechanical analyses), epidemiological studies (prediction models based on longitudinal cohort data), implementation of technological devices (e.g. accelerometry, kinect, smartphones, smartwatches) and interventions on fall prevention and active ageing in daily life behaviour.

For an overview and updates of research projects of the "Mobility in Ageing" interest group:

 Research Projects

  • Falls due to a mismatch between self-perceived and actual abilities in older adults

In my VIDI project we are currently investigating the causes and consequences of misjudgements by older adults their biomechanical abilities in relation to biomechanical task requirements, by a combination of experimental studies and a prospective cohort study. 

  • PreventIT: Early risk detection and prevention of functional decline in young older adults with ICT support

In this project we are developing a proof of concept of an unobtrusive mobile health system for young old people (60-70 years). This involves assessment for the risk for functional decline and eligibility for intervention. In a feasibility RCT, our target group is profiled and motivated for integrating balance, strength and physical activity components in their daily life activities. For more information visit the PreventIT website. 

  • Fall Risk Assessment in Older Adults (FARAO) based on accelerometry obtained during daily life activities

In the FARAO project we focus on predicting falls based on daily life gait characteristics obtained with one-week accelerometry data. Our system is based on miniature accelerometers (MoveMonitor) and has been worn by more than 300 participants. We found that gait quality measures of daily life gait have added value to predicting falls. 

  • Ability to respond to balance perturbations in young versus older adults

We study the mechanics and control of recovery responses after balance perturbations during walking. For example, we developed a unique setup with 21 hidden obstacles to trip participants repeatedly during overground walking. We have shown that the rate of force generation in the lower limbs during their recovery reaction discriminates older fallers from non-fallers and young adults. 

  • Identification of high-risk fallers and targets for fall prevention training

 We investigated whether fallers can be identified from results of muscle strength tests. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of strength training in a group of elderly on functional tasks as tripping.   

  • MedioLateral Balance Assessement (MELBA) 

We developed a new method to assess mediolateral balance performance using a visal tracking task. This tool was shown to be reliable, direction specific, challenging, and greater sensitivity to age than conventional balance measures. These features allow for identification of subtle balance impairments in older adults, which were predictive in instabilities in real-life gait.

Personal information

  • 2016-01-01: Appointed to the Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom chair as professor of Mobility in Ageing.
  • 2004-06-30: PhD dissertation Recovery from a trip in young and older adults. Mechanics and control of the support limb. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


  • 2016 EU Horizon 2020 co-PI: PreventIT
  • 2014 NWO Aspacia grant: (linked to the NWO VIDI grant)
  • 2014 NWO VIDI grant: Falling: A mismatch between perceived and actual abilities in older adults?
  • 2010 NWO TOP grant: FARAO: A novel instrument to support fall prevention in extramural care.
  • 2006 NWO VENI grant: Physical capacity of the elderly; towards targets for fall prevention 

Prizes and Awards

2014-09-08: Awarded the Jed Rowe Prize for the best Platform Presentation at the 15th International Falls and Postural Stability Meeting (Manchester, UK). 

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