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The Future of Rehab Research

Extraordinary Research Environments

​The iDAPT Centre includes labs to study sleep, stroke, mobility and biomechanics, to name but a few, and workshops to develop assistive technologies for the home. Learn about these labs and workshops:

LABS


WORKSHOPS (iDAPT SERVICES)


LAB​​​​S


ClimateLab

You never know what season it will be in this lab. The temperature and humidity can be changed to replicate a range of environmental conditions, from frozen winter (-20 ⁰C) to stifling summer (+35 ⁰C) and up to 95% relative humidity. Investigators are using the lab to develop and test winter clothing and footwear that is safe and user-friendly for older people and those with disabilities. Studies are also being carried out to design footwear that can prevent slips and falls in winter. The lab is also used to examine how the body responds to heat and cold and to develop exercise programs for people with health conditions such as heart disease and asthma. Assistive technology and accessible environment designs are also enhanced here to suit Canadian climates. This lab is located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Yue Li, PhD Research Associate
Phone: 416 849 4340 ext. 214
Email: yue.li@uhn.ca

Communication Function Lab

Communication disorders are common among people with dementia and those who have experienced a stroke, brain injury or other neurological condition. The main focus of this lab is on the development of new technology to assess and augment communication in a natural environment and to develop theories to aid in the design of speech and hearing technology. The focal point is a sound-insulated room equipped with an array of speakers and audio equipment specifically designed for the study of communication in complex acoustic environments. The lab also houses clinical audiometers and middle-ear, brainstem and otoacoustic emission analyzers. Additionally, researchers in this lab are testing the effectiveness of interventions designed to help people with communication disabilities to understand or produce words in challenging environments. These include high-tech hearing aids and augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) units.

This lab is located in the University of Toronto’s Rehabilitation Sciences building at 500 University Ave. in Toronto. For more information, contact:

Laura Laird, Research Manager
Phone: 416 946 8632
Email: laura.laird@utoronto.ca

Rehabilitation Engineering Lab

Rehabilitation Engineering LapEach year, more than 1,000 Canadians experience a spinal cord injury or illness, resulting in partial or complete paralysis. The Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory (REL) is based at the largest rehabilitation program in Canada for people with spinal cord injuries and related non-traumatic neurological conditions and is the state-of-the-art facility in the field of neural engineering and neurorehabilitation.

Our team develops sophisticated neuroprostheses, neurorehabilitation systems, brain machine interfaces and diverse assistive technologies. Our lab has a track record in conducting randomized controlled trials with various neuroprostheses and is one of the leading institutions in the world in the field of functional electrical stimulation therapy. At any given time, more than 40 people are associated with this lab, half of them graduate and postdoctoral fellows. The team consists of engineers, physiologists, medical doctors and therapists. REL’s research has traditionally been focused on research involving human subjects; however, since 2006, the lab has been steadily expanding its animal research program.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab’s Lyndhurst Centre. Learn more about our team and our work on our website.

For more information, contact:

Egor Sanin, MASc Research Engineer
Phone: 416 597 3422 ext. 6212
Email: Info@toronto-fes.ca

Sleep Lab

Many disabilities affect a restful sleep. What’s more, sleep disorders can significantly increase the risk of serious medical conditions such as stroke and heart failure. Researchers are developing new ways to treat and diagnose sleep disorders in this 3-bedroom sleep lab. The lab is one of the most productive anywhere in the world in researching the relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular diseases. It is outfitted with polysomnographic, cardiovascular, audio-monitoring, video-monitoring and alertness-testing equipment. A portable sleep monitoring system, including portable blood pressure and cardiac output monitoring capabilities, is used to conduct sleep studies in a variety of environments.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre.

For more information, contact:

Ruth Rutherford, RPSGT Chief Technician, Sleep Laboratory
Phone: 416 597 3422 ext. 3078
Email: ruth.rutherford@uhn.ca

HomeLab

future of Rehab Research home LabHomeLab is a “home within a lab” where researchers can invent and test new products to help older people and those with disabilities stay at home longer and more safely. The lab resembles a typical single-storey dwelling, with functional plumbing and wiring. Study subjects can occupy the living space and test innovations in a real-life setting while researchers can observe all studies from an overhead catwalk.

Researchers are now developing intelligent home systems that can help older adults and people with disabilities stay safely in their homes and improve their independence and quality of life. These systems will provide automated reminders for daily tasks, respond to emergency situations and provide cognitive and social support. Future research will expand these systems to be able to detect changes in a person’s health and provide warnings before the person’s situation deteriorates.  

The long-term vision is to incorporate all of these technologies into the home itself through the development of intelligent “bricks” that are embedded within common building material such as walls, ceilings and flooring tiles.  

Other researchers are developing advanced technologies to help caregivers manage common stressful, physically demanding tasks involved in caring for someone at home, such as lifting, bathing and toileting. These products will be affordable, practical and easy to install without requiring modification or renovation of the home.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre.

For more information, contact:

Jen Boger, MASc, PEng
Phone: 416 946 8573
Email: Jen.boger@utoronto.ca

CareLab

futureRehabResearch_careLab.JPGCareLab offers a simulated environment where new nursing devices can be developed and studied in a realistic hospital-room setting. The lab consists of a typical patient care room, complete with ensuite bathroom.  

Using CareLab, teams are developing products to reduce the transmission of hospital-acquired infections. Researchers have developed a hand hygiene prompting system – made up of alcohol gel dispensers, ceiling-mounted tracking beacons and a small wearable wireless receiver – that is designed to monitor and modify hospital workers’ hand hygiene behaviour. Caregivers are prompted if they forget to disinfect their hands before or after entering a patient’s room or before or after performing a procedure on a patient.  

Revolutionary products in advanced stages of development and testing include a robotic aid to help nurses lift and move even very heavy patients and a device that inserts lifting straps under even the heaviest patient, with no effort. Other research includes an easy-to-fasten safety pole to help people in and out of their hospital bed. The D-shaped device attaches to and sticks out from the wall and can easily be removed and reinstalled from one side of the bed to the other side or used by patients in other beds.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre.

For more information, contact:

Pam Holliday, MSc, BSc (PT) Research Associate, Technology R&D Team
Phone: 416 597 3422 ext. 7955
Email: pam.holliday@uhn.ca

Falls Lab

The Falls Lab houses a 2-degree-of-freedom motion platform for studying balance control. The 7-metre x 3-metre platform is made up of 8 large force plates. This specialized equipment allows balance disturbances to be applied in a well-controlled and safe manner while subjects engage in various tasks. The platform enables scientists to study compensatory reactions to unexpected perturbations created by platform movements in the horizontal plane. These movements can be random or can be triggered by an event. The platform is capable of high accelerations and velocities, with total displacements of up to 2 metres in the horizontal plane. The motion path can be linear in any direction or can be comprised of combinations of different X and Y motions during gait, stance and seated postures.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab's University Centre. For more information, contact:

Dr. Brian Maki, SMME, PhD Senior Scientist
Phone: 416 597 3422 ext. 7437
Email: brian.maki@uhn.ca

Swallowing/Rehabilitation Research Lab

In this lab, scientists are investigating a major health concern for people affected by conditions such as stroke, brain injury and Parkinson’s disease. The lab is believed to be the most sophisticated of its kind in North America for studying swallowing disorders. It is equipped with the latest tools to examine oral movements during swallowing. The space houses a KayPentax Digital Swallow Workstation that simultaneously collects a subject’s muscle-activity, airflow and pressure data during swallowing.

This lab is located at Toronto Rehab's University Centre.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Catriona Steele, PhD, CCC-SLP, Reg. CASLPO Senior Scientist
Phone: 416 597 3422 ext. 7603
Email: catriona.steele@uhn.ca

Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL)

Research in this lab helps older people and those with disabilities stay at home longer and more safely using intelligent self-adaptive technologies. A joint venture between Toronto Rehab and the University of Toronto’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, this lab is used to develop intelligent home systems, such as prompting systems and fall detection systems, to support older people and people with cognitive, mobility and communication impairments.

This lab is located at the University of Toronto’s Rehabilitation Sciences building at 500 University Ave. in Toronto. Learn more about our team and our projects on our website.

For more information, contact:

Jen Boger, MASc, PEng Research Manager
Phone: 416 946 8573
Email: jen.boger@utoronto.ca

WORKSHOPS (iDAPT Services)

Groundbreaking rehabilitation research deserves a one-of-a-kind environment where researchers and industry work together to find practical and marketable solutions to real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities and age-related conditions. iDAPT’s specialized workshops and Research and Design Studio offer just that.


Rapid Prototyping Workshop

Three-dimensional plastic prototypes are manufactured with unprecedented speed, function, sophistication and style in this high-tech workshop. Our rapid-prototyping capabilities provide researchers with the opportunity to develop, fit and test parts and devices quickly, without the high costs of tooling and moulding, and to build complicated parts that cannot be made with traditional techniques. Plastic polypropolene-like parts up to 20.5” x 20.5” x 12.5” can be made with resolutions down to 0.004 on one of the largest Stereolithography (SLA) (laser cured resin) machines in Canada. Robust functional parts are achieved with a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machine. Liquid ABS plastic is extruded out of a print head with resolutions down to 0.010” to build parts up to 6” x 6” x 8”. Assemblies and even gear trains may be created in situ all in one build. Larger parts are built in sections and bonded together post process, with standard ABS adhesives.

iDAPT’s rapid prototyping capability also equips scientists with the ability to manufacture small quantities of products for immediate testing, validation or impact measurement in living, working and learning environments.

This workshop is located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre.

Electronics and Instrumentation Development Workshop

The ability to develop and prototype high-quality miniature electronic devices is integral to iDAPT’s success and crucial to almost every device developed at iDAPT. This workshop is equipped with sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) workstations for electronics design and circuit simulation, hardware and software toolsets for the development of embedded applications employing a wide variety of microcontrollers, state-of-the-art test and measurement instruments and rapid inhouse electronics prototyping equipment. Prototyping tools include a high-precision printed circuit board router, a programmable convection reflow soldering chamber and a semi-automated system for prototyping circuit boards with surface-mount components. The tools in this workshop allow researchers and engineers to design, prototype and test experimental solutions quickly, minimizing the time required for design revisions prior to fabrication and commercialization.

Research and Design Studio

Inventions are conceived and designs are conceptualized in our Research and Design Studio. Researchers and students with engineering, industrial design, computer science, clinical, architecture and other backgrounds collaborate in this workspace that emphasizes creative computer graphics and concept modelling. The studio is equipped with sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) workstations, a large-format printer, exhibit and modelling areas and an integrated team meeting space.

Mechanical Workshop

The Mechanical Workshop is equipped with the latest computer-controlled machine tools, including an ultra-high-precision 5-axis mill, a live-tooling turning centre, a micron-level surface grinder, plasma and torch cutting, and MIG, TIG and stick welding to create prototypes in plastic, metal, wood or composite materials. These tools are used to construct the components needed for research and for prototypes of assistive device inventions. Manual mills and lathes allow the shop to be used as a teaching facility for research staff and students.

These workshops and the Research and Design Studio are located at Toronto Rehab's University Centre.

Contact

For more information about iDAPT Services, email us at idaptservices@uhn.ca.