Two teams led by, (clockwise from top L), Dr. Andrea Iaboni, occupational therapist Emily MacPherson, Dr. Kathy McGilton, Dr. Shirin Vellani and research assistant Lydia Yeung, have one year to complete their projects. (Photos: UHN)

A group of scientists at UHN's KITE Research Institute and clinicians with Toronto Rehab have come together to develop new methods to improve patient care.

The inaugural KITE-Toronto Rehab Clinical Research Partnership Competition invited teams led by one KITE researcher and one TR clinician to submit proposals for projects aimed at improving patient outcomes.

The winning teams receive up to $7,500 in funding to complete their project within one year.

"The goal of this competition is to discover new innovations in patient care and strengthen the collaboration and partnership between frontline clinical teams and KITE researchers," says Dr. Milos R. Popovic, Director of KITE.

If the outcomes of these projects are proven to have a positive impact they may be incorporated into Toronto Rehab's approach to patient care.

One team is led by Dr. Kathy McGilton, a Senior Scientist at KITE, and Toronto Rehab nurse practitioner Dr. Shirin Vellani. KITE scientist Dr. Andrea Iaboni and TR occupational therapist Emily MacPherson lead the other.

The winners were selected by a panel of experts at KITE and Toronto Rehab from a pool of more than 20 submissions.

Dr. McGilton and Dr. Vellani's project seeks to provide tablets with speech translation apps to non-English speaking inpatients at Toronto Rehab in order to assist them with communicating with staff and vice versa. Their research assistant Lydia Yeung came up with the idea while being redeployed on the unit during COVID-19.

The project was led by Drs. Iaboni and Emily MacPherson will investigate whether using soft lighting, soothing sounds and familiar views in TRI's Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU) can improve patient's movements, behaviours, and circadian rhythms.

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