R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudo da Performance Humana [HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447] visitada em 09/04/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This Unit has a long tradition is the multidisciplinary field of human performance in a diversity of social and physical contexts. There exists a valuable “research model”, a well defined general strategy regarding research priorities and clear leadership. The Unit has established a long series of collaborations with important foreign research Institutes and participates actively in a number of international networks. The Unit has been active not only in research but also in education/training of young MSc and PhD students, and also with respect to activities at the service of the community. These activities are carried out in close collaboration between the different groups what is a positive feature of the RU. In particular the PhD program, although not very extensive, appears to be coherent and well appreciated by the PhD students.
Some of these groups had composition and titles in the period 2003 – 2007 that differ from those of the planned period of 2007 – 2010. The directly related groups are considered together below.
First group:
Oeiras-447-2164 (2003-2007) Adaptive Behaviour & Accessibility; Oeiras-447-2170 (2007-2010) Autonomy and Inclusion; Head: Maria Leonor Frazão Moniz Pereira da Silva.
2nd group:
Oeiras-447-2178 (2003-2007): Movement Studies; Principal Investigador: Kelo Marçal Correia da Silva; Oeiras-447-2195 (2007-2010): Neuromechanics of Human Movement; Principal Investigador: Antonio Prieto Veloso
3rd group:
Biological impact of physical activity;
Oeiras-447-2196 (2007-2010)
Principal Investigador: Jan Maria Hendrick Cabri
4th group:
Human factors ergonomics;
Oeiras-447-1987 (2003-2007): PI: Anabela dos Santos Aleixo Simoes; Oeiras-447-2148 (2007-2010); PI: Francisco dos Santos Rebelo
5th group: -
Body composition and Health (Healthy weight)
Oeiras-447-1956 (2003-2007)
PI: Luis Fernando Cordeiro Bettencourt Sardinha
[Lifestyle weight management in overweight and obese women: The impact of continuous contact
and structured exercise in long-term maintenance after weight loss]
Oeiras-447-1972 (2007-2010)
PI: Luis Fernando Cordeiro Bettencourt Sardinha

The Unit has a valuable “research model”, a well defined general strategy and clear leadership, but it is constituted by a diversity of groups that have different levels of performance and impact on the international research fields where the RU is active. It appears that the potential of the RU in this context has not yet been sufficiently exploited; a more demanding set of priorities is necessary to enhance the international impact of most of the RU, at the level, at least of the 5th group: - “Body composition and Health”.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Adaptive Behaviour & Accessibility [RG-X-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2164]
Autonomy and Inclusion [RG-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2170]
The research of this group is focused on “daily living activities” with emphasis on “functional vision”, “attention deficits and executive functions”, the impact of educational processes and the application of modern technologies in this context. The general aim of the group is to investigate processes that facilitate the function of people (child, young, elderly, normal people or with disabilities) in their daily environment, such that their autonomy may be enhanced or achieved. The publications of the group are in journals of low impact and very often in Portuguese. Nonetheless the group lists a large number of MSc and PhD theses, but the large majority of the theses is written in Portuguese with the exception of one PhD thesis of the University of Coruña in Spanish, and 2 MSc in English in collaboration with the University of Ghent. A general inspection of the publications issued from this group indicates that the majority refers to questions related to behaviour and performance of subjects with attention deficits, visual functional impairments and behavioural disorders.
The whole program is diverse and has a strong applied character.
The group is planning to carry out also studies of visual functions in relation to reading strategies; to pursue these investigations the group needs an upgrading of equipment dedicated to electrophysiology of the visual system including the analysis of visual fields, contrast sensitivity and dark adaptation.
In general the research objectives are clear and valid but the investigations have not yet led to a body of publications that may have impact in the international literature. This has to be improved and the potential to achieve this objective appears to be present. The number of topics that the group plans to pursue, however, is very large taking into consideration the time that the researchers have available to be actively engaged in research. Thus the group should establish priorities in a clearer way, and concentrate on those fields where they have the best potential to make significant contributions with international impact.
Biological adaptation to external factors: the impact of acute and chronic exercise on human performance [RG-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2196]
This group focus on understanding human performance in the context of sports, exercise or physical activity in general, and on enhancing the performance of different kinds of subjects, ranging from children to elderly, and elite athletes. In this context the group investigates mainly aerobic and anaerobic parameters and assesses the neuromuscular and kinematic determinants of several motor functions. The group consists of a relatively large number of members but the majority can dedicate to research about 30% of their time. There is a large number of PhD students. This group, like most of the others in this Unit, publishes traditionally in journals of relatively low impact, and should be encouraged to achieve publishing in journals with more international visibility (only one paper in the Int J Sports Med.). The group’s desire to increase the critical mass of project groups focusing more on selected research objectives is a welcome development.
Development of Skill and Perception [RG-X-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2160]
Ergonomic Studies [RG-X-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-1987]
Human Factors [RG-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2148]
The group’s research is oriented towards questions relevant to the evaluation of driver behaviour and safety within the general framework of human-machine interactions. The research is mainly applied with some industrial applications such as product optimization with respect to special footwear (SOLMAT – An industrial mat, in cooperation with Amorim Industrial Solutions), and regarding seat dimensions and cushion surfaces to be used in motorcars. Therefore it is positive that the group has made applications regarding some patents, such as “ErgoShow – A multimedia program to promote ergonomics and safety at work for children”, and “Ergos Office – A Trainer's Toolkit to help create an ergonomic work environment for offices, to help reduce injuries, workers' compensation costs and lost workdays”. Both were developed in collaboration with the Portuguese Institute for Safety and Health at Work. In contrast the publications of the group are very few and many just in Proceedings.
Lifestyle weight management in overweight and obese women: The impact of continuous contact and structured exercise in long-term maintenance after weight loss [RG-X-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-1956]
Lifestyle weight management in overweight and obese women: The impact of continuous contact and structured exercise in long-term maintenance after weight loss [RG-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-1972]
This group carries out very well focused investigations regarding predictors of healthy weight and weight maintenance and using biological parameters that assess body composition; specially bone and muscle and metabolic functions. According to these general objectives the group carries out research on lifelong obesity and weight control.
Important purposes are to develop and implement an innovative weight loss and weight maintenance program in overweight and obese pre-menopausal women, to assess the effects of educational weight loss/weight maintenance programs, and the effects of structured exercise.
In general this research line has yield interesting results regarding the impact of reduced weight on selected metabolic factors, such as lipid and lipoprotein profiles, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, cardio-respiratory fitness, and abdominal fat.
These research lines have led to a considerable number of publications in international journals, under which some in journals of the top list of “Sports sciences” journals, and also good publications in the fields of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and metabolic and cardiovascular diseases including “The Lancet”. The group participates in international research projects and is active in promoting the PhD program. The group activities are in general very good with potential to become excellent.
Movement Studies [RG-X-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2178]
Neuromechanics of Human Movement [RG-HESC-LVT-Oeiras-447-2195]
This group carries out human movement research that is relevant for a range of fields from sports, exercise in general, rehabilitation, ergonomics and may have clinical applications. The group has a tradition in the development of valuable mathematical modelling of musculo-skeletal systems and in experimental studies of movement in human and animals. The group is very well equipped for this kind of investigations. Nonetheless the publications of the group have been mostly in journals of relatively moderate impact; it is true that in this research area the most important journals do not have a high impact factor; anyway the group has published one paper in collaboration with other groups in a journal of higher impact in the field of Tissue Engineering. The Panel recommends that the group attempts to publish in a way that will enhance its international visibility, what should be realistic taking into consideration the research going on in the group and the relevance of the scientific field. The group has the potential to occupy a central role in the field of “Neuromechanics” in a national network that could form a broad and multidisciplinary platform, such that a stronger critical mass of researchers in this field could be created in Portugal.