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Dr Elmar Kal
Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy


I have a BSc (2011) and MSc (2012; cum laude) in Movement Science, both from the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in The Netherlands. For my PhD project I was employed at a specialist rehabilitation centre (Heliomare) in the Netherlands, studying the impact of implicit learning interventions on the rehabilitation of balance and gait in people after stroke. I successfully defended my thesis in November 2018. I joined Brunel in 2019.

My research is focused on better understanding the cognitive and psychological processes that underpin motor control and learning, and to use this knowledge to improve motor functioning in aging and neurological populations (stroke, Parkinson’s). Two main themes in my research are: (1) The use of motor learning principles in (re-)learning of balance and gait tasks in different clinical populations. This includes the use of weight-shifting strategies to reduce freezing of gait in people with PD, as well as the use of implicit motor learning techniques as part of Physical Education of children.

(2) The role of anxiety and associated changes in attention in unexplained dizziness in older adults.This includes the use of virtual reality to study the effects of standing at a (virtual) height on fear of falling, associated discrepancies in perceived (self-reported) and actual (sway on force platform) balance, and potential neural and muscular control changes that could help explain such discrepancies - and provide options for interventions.

In terms of approach, I combine basic science (assessments of brain activity (using fNIRS, EEG), kine(ma)tics of movement (using force plates, 3D movement analysis), and muscular control (EMG)) with clinically applied research (e.g., using clinical outcomes and assessment methods). I have experience with a host of the methodological approaches (systematic reviews, observational studies, experimental studies, RCTs, validation studies) which gives me flexibility in studying these topics.


  • PhD in Movement Sciences / Neuropsychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands); 2018
  • MSc (cum laude), Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands); 2012


Main responsibilities:

  • Module lead of Dissertation module, pre-reg MSc Physiotherapy
  • Manager of Gait and Balance and paediatrics lab (MRSC-005 & 006)
  • Academic lead for the Brunel Older persons Reference Group (BORG)

Newest selected publications

Ellmers, TJ. and Kal, EC. (2023) 'Exploring the role of attention towards balance in chronic dizziness: Development of the Balance Vigilance Questionnaire'. European Journal of Neurology, 31 (3). pp. 1 - 12. ISSN: 1351-5101 Open Access Link

Journal article

Ellmers, TJ., Wilson, MR., Kal, EC. and Young, WR. (2023) 'The perceived control model of falling: developing a unified framework to understand and assess maladaptive fear of falling'. Age and Ageing, 52 (7). pp. 1 - 12. ISSN: 0002-0729 Open Access Link

Journal article

Steinmann, J., Lewis, A., Ellmers, TJ., Jones, M., MacBean, V. and Kal, E. (2023) 'Validating the Breathing Vigilance Questionnaire for use in Dysfunctional Breathing'. European Respiratory Journal, 61 (6). pp. 2300031 - 2300031. ISSN: 0903-1936 Open Access Link

Journal article

Ellmers, TJ., Delbaere, K. and Kal, EC. (2023) 'Frailty, falls and poor functional mobility predict new onset of activity restriction due to concerns about falling in older adults'. European Geriatric Medicine, 14 (2). pp. 345 - 351. ISSN: 1878-7649 Open Access Link

Journal article

Jie, L-J., Kal, E., Ellmers, T., Rosier, J., Meijer, K. and Boonstra, T. (2022) 'The Effects of Conscious Movement Processing on the Neuromuscular Control of Posture'. Neuroscience, 509 (15 January 2023). pp. 63 - 73. ISSN: 0306-4522 Open Access Link

Journal article
More publications(9)