Stories#056 Jordy’s meaningful contribution

#056 Jordy’s meaningful contribution

The story of Joanneke’s patients is a story of Jordy’s imaging

Jordy van Zandwijk functions as driver of technological innovation. If his colleagues build an MRI-scanner in which people can stand upright, he will come up with a variety of ways to apply it. And, subsequently, he will inform hospitals and medical centres about it. As a psychiatrist and researcher, Joanneke van der Nagel is especially interested in how technology can improve her patients’ addiction treatment. How have these two not met before?

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Monday 29 November 2021

Added value for the entire country

Joanneke: ‘Hi Jordy, it’s a pleasure to interview you. I read that you’re from De Krim, a small village in Overijssel. I live in a village as well, including memberships to local clubs and participation in local festivities. It’s all part of the deal if you want to integrate as non-native. I was wondering: as a villager, were you easily adapted to life in Enschede?’

Jordy: ‘What a good way to kick off. I was, indeed, born and raised in De Krim. I’ve been living in a nearby village for a while now, but I still go there a few times a week. To visit my parents, family, friends, and the soccer club. I play in the first team of DKB, de Krimse Boys. Enschede is a nice city and I’ve had a great college life there, but I still feel most at home in the village. I enjoy the peace, the space, hearing birds chirp when I wake up in the morning, the small town mentality, and the local festivities. Fortunately, I get to experience some of that on campus as well: everything in one place rather than spread out over the city, the cows in the meadows just around the corner, the pleasant ambience. You can talk to anyone, no one is stuck-up. Meetings with UT-colleagues I’ve never seen before are always fun, never unnerving. That’s part of the reason why I stuck around after graduating.’

Joanneke: ‘People first, inclusivity, and ‘we build a stronger society’ are important themes of the UT vision. How do you think the people from De Krim perceive this? What is our added value for them?’

Jordy: ‘Hm, an interesting and relevant question. Looking at my own field, I notice that our innovations in imaging techniques are first available to medical centres and hospitals in large cities. It’s not until they are fully integrated there that they are put at the disposal of smaller places and regional hospitals. That’s just how it goes, it has to do with expertise, capacity, and funding. At the same time, though, many people from villages such as De Krim use medical technology that was developed or further developed at UT. Think, for example, of sensors and wearables to measure and monitor someone’s heart rate or blood sugar level. Our added value is far-reaching, all over the country.’

“Many people from villages such as De Krim already use medical technology that was developed or further developed at UT”
Jordy van Zandwijk

Joanneke: ‘Is this an accurate summary: your colleagues build new solutions, and you explore its opportunities, to build a bridge between these solutions and the clinical domains that can profit from them?’

Jordy: ‘That’s absolutely correct.’

Joanneke: ‘Give me a concrete example of how you’ve innovated.’

Jordy: ‘Then the upright MRI scanner immediately comes to mind. The innovation is in the fact that although we spend a great amount of time standing upright, until recently, MRI scans were always produced while lying down. You can imagine that an upright scan of patients with back or knee pain gives a much better image of the weight-bearing state of the back or knee. For gynaecologists, vertical scanning is interesting for imaging pelvic organ prolapse, for example. And it’s a valuable new option for imaging blood vessels, my own expertise. Blood vessels can expand or contract if you put people upright, and the blood takes a different route through the veins than when people lie down. So we can use these vertical scans, among other things, to check if implanted stents that are supposed to relieve vasoconstriction are prolapsing.’

Joanneke: ‘Very interesting! And enviable, too. Aside from family medicine, psychiatry is the largest medical specialty. I’d love to use more technological innovations in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Yet I’ve never worked with a TM’er (technical medicine, red.) before. How’s that possible?’

Jordy: ‘It might be because when people think of your field, they don’t necessarily think of technology. Or maybe people are too quick to associate it with scenes from ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’. That movie doesn’t make electroshock treatment look very appealing. If you ask me, anything is possible. What do you have in mind?’

“I think that the general picture of psychiatry is that it involves little technology. But if you ask me, anything is possible”
Jordy van Zandwijk

Joanneke: ‘Aside from my job at the UT, I work at Tactus, an addiction treatment centre. People’s urge for substance abuse is, in fact, a pathological disturbance of the reward system. It isn’t a matter of weakness, but a medical disorder. We can control that urge with medication, but also with for example deep brain stimulation, by sending electrical signals to the brain. I’m afraid I would cause a landslide if I were to suddenly move all sorts of computers and tools into our centre, though. We aren’t prepared for that. We lack both the insight into all the opportunities as well as the network of people like you to help us get started and to guide us. Do you think we can get there someday?’

Jordy: ‘Yes. And this might sound a bit corny, but you have to start somewhere. Make contacts, build a network. That’s what we did. Now, many clinics give us interesting assignments, requests, and internship opportunities for our students. This interview could be a good starting point. We should get together sometime to think about potential technological applications for the diagnosis and treatment of your patients.’

“We lack people like you, Jordy, to help us get started and to guide us”
Joanneke van der Nagel

Joanneke: ‘Wonderful! I’m so excited to make progress in this area.’

Jordy: ‘I’m glad that this interview helped pave the way for us. To me, this underlines the importance of getting in touch with others, sharing experiences and ideas. Not just with colleagues, by the way. Also with neighbours, fellow villagers, and in the soccer locker room. Having conversations with others forces you to keep looking at what you’re doing with a fresh pair of eyes, and to keep wondering: What exactly am I doing? Am I adding value?’ 

Joanneke: ‘Absolutely! A good note to end on if you ask me.’ 

Jordy: ‘Thank you, Joanneke. And see you soon!’

JOANNEKE VAN DER NAGEL (1974)

is researcher at Human Media Interaction of the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science faculty (EEMCS). She focuses on making technological innovations in the medical world, such as virtual reality, more accessible to vulnerable populations. Besides, she is a consultant psychiatrist at Tactus Addiction Medicine and Aveleijn Disability care. Joanneke has a medical degree, Master’s in philosophy, and a PhD in Social Sciences. She also obtained a registration as a clinical epidemiologist. She is a strong advocate for inclusive healthcare, in terms of eHealth equity as well as research strategies. Joanneke strives to establish a research centre and educational minor on inclusive research at UT.

Jordy van Zandwijk (1991)

is a UT alumnus. He studied Technical Medicine, Medical Imaging & Interventions (Technical Medicine or TM for short) in Enschede. Afterwards, he joined the Experimental Centre for Technical Medicine (ECTM) at UT as PhD and teacher. Jordy’s research focuses on the application of MRI imaging and, more specifically: the imaging of blood vessels. Hence his position as TM’er at the vascular surgery specialism at Medisch Spectrum Twente. Since September 2021, he’s track manager for the master’s Medical Imaging & Interventions at the Technical Medicine major.