Scientist holding HERO Glove
Among the many products and innovations UHN researchers are expected to showcase at RehabWeek is the HERO Glove. The robotic exoskeleton for stroke survivors was developed by Aaron Yurkewich, a doctoral student with the KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehab. (Photo: UHN)

More than 2,000 experts in science, technology, academics and industry will descend on Toronto this week as UHN and Toronto Rehab host the largest rehabilitation conference of its type in the world.

RehabWeek is an important bi-annual conference that last took place in London in 2017.

It is well-known for attracting professionals dedicated to the pursuit of innovations, devices and solutions that prevent injuries, restore function for those living with disabilities, increase participation and help seniors live independent lives.

"We are very excited to host RehabWeek in Toronto this year," said Dr. Milos R. Popovic, Director of the KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehab and Chair of the RehabWeek 2019 organizing committee.

"This conference is the single-most important international health, tech and scientific rehab event in the world and we very pleased that Toronto Rehab and UHN are playing host this year."

RehabWeek is the only conference of its type in the world that brings together members of the following six international rehabilitation societies:

  • The International Consortium on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR)
  • The International Industry Society in Advanced Rehabilitation Technology (IISART)
  • The International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS)
  • The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Conference (ACRM)
  • The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
  • The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO Canada)

Scientist wearing FES garment
Bastien Moineau, a post-doctoral fellow at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, will lead a workshop at RehabWeek on using textiles to deliver functional electrical stimulation (FES) with the goal of generating movement. Such garments have the potential to restore function for those living with injuries and disabilities. (Photo: UHN)

The conference provides a platform for researchers, academics and industry to present and exchange ideas and build long-term partnerships with the goal of addressing the long-term challenges and opportunities in rehabilitation. 

"As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve in Canada and elsewhere, close co-operation between clinicians, engineers, researchers, scientists, health practitioners, policymakers, patients and industry is critical to developing solutions for our aging populations," said Dr. Popovic.

Addressing the needs of that aging population is a pressing need for both healthcare providers and policymakers. In Ontario alone, the number of seniors living in the province is expected to double from 2.4 million today to 4.6 million by 2041.

In addition to the scientific and research programming, conference organizers anticipate more than 50 international and domestic companies that provide services and develop products in the rehabilitation and aging field will take part in this event.

"Conference attendees can expects to see the latest rehabilitation innovations and products in many areas, including robotics, artificial intelligence, functional electrical stimulation, prosthetics and other assistive technologies," said Dr. Popovic.

"There's really nowhere else in the world where you can see all of this in one place."

Introducing the HERO Glove, a robotic exoskeleton that's designed to help stroke and spinal cord injury patients regain function in their hands. This innovative technology was developed at UHN's Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. (Video: UHN)

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