“ I really enjoy living in the Maastricht region. It’s the perfect combination of work and living. Also, the fact that it’s not overcrowded makes the City of Maastricht a very cozy city with a friendly atmosphere. The city is very compact, and everything is reachable within a short walking- or cycling distance. And besides that, I really enjoy the hilly landscape of this region.”
Meet Em. Prof. Dr. Herman Kingma
Prof. Dr. Herman Kingma is clinical physicist and vestibulologist. He recently retired as head of the Vestibular department at the Academic Hospital of Maastricht (MUMC+), where he has been working for 35 years. About 35 years ago this department did not even exist, when the former professor of ENT asked Prof. Dr. Kingma to start up this department. Now the Vestibular department is a renowned department at the MUMC+ and one of the best in the world.
Prof. Dr. Kingma is born and raised in Rotterdam and is a true Feyenoord supporter in heart and soul. Nevertheless, he has left his roots behind and has been living in Maastricht for 35 years now. “I really enjoy living in Maastricht, after all, I have lived here most of my life. The people are so friendly here, I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Also, the City of Maastricht has everything. The compact city offers a perfect combination of conviviality within a very diverse environment.” says Prof. Dr. Kingma, who has also received many guests in Maastricht, to which he always shows the city. “Everyone is always very enthusiastic during the city tour. They really love the City of Maastricht time and time again”.
Meet Dr. Raymond van de Berg
His successor as head of the Vestibular department is Dr. Raymond van de Berg, who is an ENT-surgeon and vestibulologist. He is living in Maastricht since 2002, when he started his medicine study at the Maastricht University. Dr. van de Berg grew up in the Dutch province called ‘Noord-Brabant’ and he always thought he would move back to Noord-Brabant to return to his roots. However, he never left the City of Maastricht “I enjoy living in Maastricht so much, that I never left” says Dr. van de Berg. Although the most important reason for him to stay in Maastricht is work. He loves the combination of physics and medicine, two specialisms you can hardly combine in any work field as a doctor. However, when looking at balance disorders, it is a perfect combination of both.
The Vestibular department of the MUMC+ is one of the best in the world within the field of vestibular disorders, and the MUMC+ is the only hospital in the Netherlands where this specialism is carried out at such a high level. “When I combine this with living in the Maastricht region, which I really enjoy, it’s the perfect combination of work and living. Also, the fact that it’s not overcrowded makes the City of Maastricht a very cozy city with a friendly atmosphere. The city is very compact, and everything is reachable within a short walking- or cycling distance. And besides that, I really enjoy the hilly landscape of this region” says Dr. van de Berg.
The MUMC+ Vestibular department
Even though there is a huge overlap between Prof. Dr. Kingma and Dr. van de Berg, there’s also a huge difference between the two of them, namely Prof. Dr. Kigma being a clinical physicist, and Dr. van de Berg is an ENT-surgeon. However, the decision to let an ENT-surgeon take over the department was a very logical step. At a technical development level, the department already took huge steps over the years, led by Prof. Dr. Kingma. When he retired it was time to let the department also grow even further in the field of surgery and medicine. This allows this already worldwide renowned department to grow even further.
Conferencing in Maastricht
Prof. Dr. Kingma organized a world conference in Maastricht back in 2001 on posture and balance. “The conference was held in Crowne Plaza Maastricht and it was a huge success. People still talk about this nowadays. The conference delegates really enjoyed this conference and they found Maastricht a great city. The City of Maastricht and the surrounding region have so many to offer and the diversity is enormous, which makes this region ideal as a conference destination” says Prof. Dr. Kingma.
Maastricht – a leader in the field of vestibular disorders
We asked why Maastricht is a world leader in the field of balance disorders. Prof. Dr. Kingma explained that they once started in Maastricht with the development of all kinds of therapies to treat vestibular disorders. After all, there are no such things as hearing aids or glasses for these disorders. Therefor Prof. Dr. Kingma started to develop the ‘balance belt’. “This is the only therapy, which is currently available as a prothesis worldwide, and it’s developed here in Maastricht.” The second thing he mentioned is related to Dr. van de Bergs work. He pioneered the development of the world’s first artificial balance organ, together with colleagues from Geneva. Dr. van de Berg graduated cum laude with this development and he also received first prizes from the national ENT-association and Maastricht University. “Maastricht is now the first in the world who did this in 2012. This means that the first implants were used in Maastricht and Geneva, so in that respect, we definitely are a world leader in the field of vestibular disorders” says Prof. Dr. Kingma.
We asked Dr. van de Berg about the collaborations of the Maastricht ENT department. “Within various committees, we often work together with experts worldwide. In terms of collaborations, worldwide collaborations are our center of gravity. However, we also recently cooperate at national level because there is a special committee for balance disorders in which I am the representative from Maastricht. We also have very good cooperation with Antwerp (Belgium) when we look at collaborations at a regional level. I also work there, and we work very closely with Antwerp in the field of research. Also, Hasselt and Genk are important for us when we look at regional collaborations.”
The importance of conferences
As both Prof. Dr. Kingma as Dr. van de Berg gets asked as a keynote speaker at conferences a lot, they are definitely experts in the field of conferencing. The importance of conferences is very clear to them. “Raymond and I go to a conference to share knowledge. I do this a lot by giving lectures myself, where I transfer my knowledge. But because you are often in the company of the best speakers in the world, you also continuously learn yourself every time. If you would not have these conferences, it would be very difficult to stay informed about what is going on within your specialism.” Says Prof. Dr. Kingma. “This sharing of knowledge is therefore indeed the most important. After all, with new knowledge, we also try to take research and patient care to an even higher level. In addition, you continuously get the drive to develop new things because you meet various experts in your field. In addition, networking also plays an important role for me during conferences.” Says Dr. van de Berg.