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Unique research centre for people with profound multiple disabilities

01 June 2010

To be a centre where several parties can combine forces to research people with profound multiple disabilities. That’s the aim of the Research Centre on Profound and Multiple Disabilities of the University of Groningen, unique in the world. The official opening of the research centre, on Friday 11 June 2010, will also comprise a conference (by invitation).

At the end of the 1980s, the department of Special Needs Education and Child Care of the University of Groningen started a line of research concerning the quality of care for people with profound cognitive and multiple physical disabilities. Headed by Professor Carla Vlaskamp the research group has built up an outstanding reputation, both nationally and internationally.
The research centre has now expanded to include research in the field of the deafblind. This research is also internationally pioneering. Marleen Jansen associate professor of Special Needs Education and Child Care, is the first person in the world to concentrate specifically on academic research into communication with the deafblind. Vlaskamp: ‘She has firmly put the deafblind on the map, and accepted the task of liberating these often misunderstood people from their social and emotional isolation.’

Special care

Just like people with profound cognitive and multiple disabilities, people with congenital or acquired deafblindness require special care. As a result there is a great deal of overlap between the two research fields. In current research, both lines of research regularly benefit from each other’s expertise. With the launch of the Research Centre on Profound and Multiple Disabilities, this cooperation will become more evident to the outside world. ‘We can now present ourselves clearly as the research centre in the field of people with profound multiple disabilities’, according to Vlaskamp.

Sorely needed

A specialized research centre such as this one is sorely needed, Vlaskamp observes. ‘Changes in the care world, for example the emphasis on decentralization and independence, have resulted in the group of people with profound disabilities emerging more clearly as a separate group in residential care.’ A great deal of knowledge is needed to be able to offer adequate care, particularly concerning aspects such as communication, stimulating physical activity and the activation of the use of compensatory senses.

Lines of research

A great number of research projects will be realised under the auspices of the Research Centre. At this moment, for example, research is being conducted into behavioural problems in people with profound cognitive disabilities and another research line concentrates on activating the movement skills of this target group.  Other research is examining the alertness of people with profound cognitive and multiple disabilities, and the effects of the reading aloud of multisensory stories is being studied. Research is also being conducted on improving the quality of communication between the deafblind and their communication partners.

Note for the press

- Research Centre on Profound and Multiple Disabilities, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences of the University of Groningen.
- More information: Prof. Carla Vlaskamp, tel. (050) 363 65 66, e-mail c.vlaskamp@rug.nl

Last modified:30 November 2017 3.33 p.m.
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