Two PhD ceremonies on functional movement disorders in one day

On 28 October 2020, both Gerrit Kramer and Jeannette Gelauff defended their PhD theses on functional movement disorders. Jeannette Gelauff even graduated cum laude!


Functional movement disorders are among the most common neurological movement disorders. They are characterized by a disorder in the control of conscious movements and can manifest as tremor, shaking (myoclonus), altered posture (dystonia) or weakness of certain muscles. Both Gerrit and Jeannette did research into functional movement disorders during their PhD trajectory, which quickly led to the idea of joining forces and organizing both PhD's on the same day. This is quite unique because there are not many promotions focused on functional disorders, and now two have taken place on the same day!

Jeannette Gelauff obtained her PhD cum laude on her dissertation entitled 'Functional motor disorders: mechanism, prognosis and treatment'. In her dissertation she discusses the mechanism (pathophysiology), prognosis and treatment of functional motor disorders. By means of so-called functional MRI scans of the brain, Gelauff looked at changes in the perception of movement control, attention for the body and abnormalities in the body schema in patients with a functional movement disorder.  In addition, she shows that fatigue is common in patients with a functional movement disorder, and that this often affects the quality of life. She also shows that only a small proportion of patients recover completely, which emphasizes the importance of better treatment options. She studied the effect of online education and self-help as a treatment method, unfortunately this does not seem to have any effect on the prognosis, although patients were very satisfied with this additional information. 

Gerrit Kramer's thesis is entitled: 'Objective and subjective movement symptoms in (functional) tremor'. In his research he shows that patients with functional tremor and patients with other types of tremor are much more similar than previously assumed. It was often thought that functional movement symptoms have an exclusively psychological cause, but Kramer's research shows that the influence of psychological factors is not clearly different for people with functional tremor.

Because of COVID-19, only a limited number of people were able to attend the promotions live. In order to still be able to congratulate the PhD students, Gerrit was driven in a cargo bike through the Noorderplantsoen after the ceremony, where his colleagues were ready to congratulate him.