Research Center

Research Center

As a research centre, throughout 2020 the University Institute promoted the transfer of research results to the clinic and promoted healthcare innovation processes to reinforce our commitment to offering the highest scientific and technical level in each of our strategic research lines.

The relationship between the High Specialisation Hospital – Centre of Excellence – and the University Institute of Neurorehabilitation – Knowledge Centre – allows us to optimise the generation and transfer of new knowledge in this specialist area of science.

Its vision is to become an international benchmark in neurorehabilitation, capable of generating and transmitting new knowledge and continuous innovation in techniques, procedures and technologies specific to the field of scientific knowledge and neuroscience in general, through the promotion of a network of open cooperation with other centres of excellence, universities, technology centres, companies and organisations in Spain and overseas.

The Institut Guttmann therefore works with 6 main lines of translational research and innovation, based on:

  1. Promoting the development and incorporation of new knowledge from the field of neurosciences, bioengineering and medical technologies.
  2. Integrating the actions carried out in the field of clinical and translational research to favour better healthcare alternatives.
  3. Encouraging the establishment of alliances, agreements or cooperation agreements with institutions and entities related to our organisation.

Some highlights in Research and Innovation in 2020 were:

  • The project “INNOBRAIN: New technologies for innovation in rehabilitation and cognitive stimulation” has finished, framed within the RIS3CAT NextHealth Community promoted by ACCIÓ and coordinated by Biocat, and the project “New technologies for cognitive rehabilitation ‑ ACTIVE VRain” of the Ministry’s Research Challenges programme has been granted.
  • Regarding the Brain Health programme, Phases I and II of the project Barcelona Brain Health Initiative have continued, with the support of “La Caixa”, and the solution developed for the multimodal intervention phase has continued to be tested. This is a mobile application that allows monitoring of lifestyle habits and cognitive training. In addition, and as a consequence of the pandemic that we are experiencing, the team of project researchers has studied the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on the over 4,500 volunteers taking part in the project.

Barcelona Brain Health Initiative (BBHI)

Research project for the promotion of Brain Health with the support of “La Caixa”.


The Barcelona Brain Health Initiative (BBHI) is the research study promoted by the Institut Guttmann with the outstanding support of “la Caixa” to discover and understand how to maintain brain health throughout life:
– Identifying lifestyle factors and biological mechanisms underlying good brain health that predict the maintenance of behavioral and cognitive health.
– Evaluating the effects of a personalized multidimensional intervention program, focused on lifestyle habits to promote brain health, preserve cognition and reduce chronic diseases by identifying lifestyle factors and biological mechanisms underlying good brain health that predict the maintenance of behavioral and cognitive health.

  • The transfer of the research results to the clinic was promoted and the healthcare innovation processes have been boosted to reinforce our commitment to offering the highest scientific and technical level. Of note is the study of mesenchymal cell implantation to enhance spinal regeneration with additional funding from AES del Carlos III and the European trial “NISCI-NOGO Inhibition in Spinal Cord Injury“, funded by the H2020 programme.
  • With regard to the fight against Covid-19, it should be noted that the Institut Guttmann has participated in research commissioned by IDIBELL and for which they have obtained funding from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. The aim of the project was the application of genomic medicine for the identification of new genes and variants involved in the development of severe hyperimmune diseases, and specifically of new genes likely to cause “storm / hyperimmune disease” in patients with Covid-19.
  • The Therapeutic Research and Innovation programme “Pre-habilitación, Rehabilitación y abordaje integral de las secuelas de tumores cerebrales” has been launched. This project will run for the coming years thanks to a very generous donation that we have received from the Joan Ribas Araquistain Foundation. – Work has continued on the EITHealth project, which granted a significant amount of funding to the company ABLE Human Motion and in which the Institut Guttmann is taking part as a clinical partner for the validation of its lightweight robotic skeleton.
  • Work has been done on the “Guttmann Cognitest”, a tool designed to screen cognitive performance. The app is basically designed to be used from mobiles and tablets, with tactile interaction tasks, and is made up of a set of 7 tasks that measure different cognitive functions, with a duration of between 15 and 20 minutes per session. At the moment it has been tested within the framework of the BBHI project and it has been noted, for example, that there is a correlation between better results in the classic tests and better results in this test, among others. The short-term objective is to validate its applicability and performance in other populations such as the elderly (outside the age ranges covered by the project), those with lower levels of education, or those with cognitive problems.
  • The enhancing effect of transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) on the cognitive rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury has been investigated in the randomised controlled trial funded by TV3’s Fundació La Marató; and in the ERANet Neuron “RATER” project, funded by the European Union, to study at the European level the effectiveness of the application of tDCS in neuropathic pain. These studies, however, have been severely affected by the cessation of research activity due to the pandemic.

Social Research

In relation to Social Research, work has continued on analysing the quantitative data collected and developing qualitative studies, as well as identifying potential strategic partners and competitive calls where funding can be obtained. Regarding competitive projects, we have continued our work on the European-funded project VIGOUR, which aims to implement a programme to support integrated care in 16 locations in Europe over 3 years (2019-2021); and in the European project “Precise4Q”, funded by the H2020 programme, to develop predictive models for stroke, from which numerous publications have already emerged.

Regarding the PARTICIPA research project on social innovation, promoted by the Institut Guttmann together with associations for people with disabilities that are part of our Social and Participation Council, which began in 2020, the website has been published with a public space and a private space; in addition, the first questionnaire has been prepared and intensive work has been done on the ambassadors programme. The project is making good progress in recruiting volunteers.

PARTICIPATE is a social research project aimed at identifying the barriers that prevent your participation and the factors that facilitate it, with the aim of transforming society so that it is fully inclusive.


Have you ever found that the accessible toilets are used as a storage room? Is it impossible for you to use the subway alone, because you never know if there will be a lift or if it will be out of service? Do people speak to your companions instead of you?


An accessible apartment, with wide doors, ramps and lift; a non-paternalistic, peer-to-peer attitude; properly signposted facilities, and policies that guarantee access to the employment market are examples of facilitators.


The Institut Guttmann has continued to increase its presence in the decision-making bodies of scientific policy in Catalonia through the different agencies that promote research and innovation in our territory (Biocat, AGAUR and ACC10); and in Spain, actively participating in the solid cooperative research networks of the ISCIII and consolidating participation in thematic networks (RETICS_ITEMAS and TERCEL).

The Research and Innovation Office has continued participating in the different stable structures of Cooperative Research, forming an active part of the following:

– Medical and Health Technology Innovation Platform, ITEMAS. Instituto de Salud Carlos III.
– Red de Terapia Celular Tercel (TerCel Cell Therapy Network). RETICS, Redes Temáticas de Investigación Cooperativa (Thematic Networks for Cooperative Research). Instituto de Salud Carlos III.


Regarding competitive projects with external funding, it should be noted that in 2020 we submitted 22 proposals to public calls for funding research and innovation projects, addressed to different Spanish and international organisations, and although most have not yet been resolved given the impact of the pandemic in this area, at the time of writing one positive result had been obtained out of the proposals presented.

At the level of Catalonia, within the framework of public funding, as a result of the pandemic the Brain Health Research Programme worked on an ambitious proposal for the public call “Replegarse para crecer: el impacto de las pandemias en un mundo sin fronteras visibles” issued by AGAUR, the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca of the Generalitat de Catalunya, and funding has been granted. This is a collaborative project led by Dr. David Bartrés in which, in addition to the UB and the Institut Guttmann, researchers from the Hospital Clínico and IDIBAPS, the IIIA-CSIC, and Professor Michael Valenzuela’s research group will also participate.


During 2020, the Institut Guttmann worked on 60 research projects, 21 studies and 5 clinical trials. In 2020, the professionals of the Institut Guttmann published 63 articles in indexed scientific journals with an accumulated impact factor (FI) of 290,193 and of which 27 are in journals from the first quarter (Q1).

In addition, 2 professionals have obtained their doctorate: a professional linked to the ​​Speech Therapy area at Guttmann Barcelona, and a researcher attached to the Office for Research and Innovation and currently in the Information Systems department of the Institut Guttmann.

Articles published in indexed journals during 2020

Access articles published in indexed journals during 2020

Articles published in non-indexed publications:

  • La visita prealta de enfermería como herramienta para minimizar el impacto del retorno al domicilio en los pacientes que han adquirido una discapacidad de origen neurológico.
    Eulàlia Castillo Mestres. Elena Hernández Pena. Blanca Cegarra Dueñas
    Àgora d’Infermeria, Volum 24, número 1 (primavera 2020), revista 93 (ISSN 1575-7668) edició impresa i revista digital número 61 (ISSN 2565-1803), pàgines 219-223
  • Handbook of innovations in central nervous system regenerative medicine. Capítol 14: “Electroceutical therapies for injuries of the nervous system”. Guillermo García-Alias, Jaume del Valle, Ignacio Delgado-Martínez, Xavier Navarro
    Elsevier, ISBN: 978-0-12-818084-6
  • Facilitadores de la participación de los niños con discapacidad en actividades físicas.
    Alex Castan
    Revista anual Fundación Salud Infantil. Revista 2020, número 7
  • Recuperación de la función de la extremidad superior en esclerosis múltiple mediante neuromodulación eléctrica espinal asistida con exoesqueleto robótico.
    Pablo Abal, Jesús Benito, Loreto García, Paula Pérez
    Revista TOG – Colegio Oficial de Terapeutas Ocupacionales de Galicia. Vol 17. Num 2. 2020. ISSN 1885-527X
  • La continuidad asistencial en el daño cerebral adquirido: programa de terapia ocupacional comunitaria en salud mental para personas con daño cerebral adquirido y sus familias.
    Marco Antonio Raya Ruiz. Beatriz Castaño Monsalve
    Revista Informaciones Psiquiátricas, Publicación científica de la Congregación de Hermanas Hospitalarias del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. 2020 – número 242, pág. 47-53
  • Investigación y educación hacia la promoción de la salud cerebral.
    Catherine Pachón
    Cuadernos de pedagogía, ISSN 0210-0630, nº 507, Sección Tema del Mes, Marzo 2020, págs. 77-83