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Toronto Rehab is host institution of the newly launched AGE-WELL, the first Canadian network of researchers, community stakeholders and industry partners that will develop and commercialize new technology to keep older adults in their homes safely and longer.
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Senior) officially announced $36.6 million in funding for AGE-WELL over five years as part of the federal government's Networks of Centres of Excellence program.
AGE-WELL is led by joint scientific directors Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab; and Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, Director of the Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University.
"Research has shown that older adults wish to remain in their own homes and that it is better for their quality of life," said Dr. Mihailidis. "We need new tools, devices and solutions in the marketplace that will help do so. AGE-WELL is a cohesive approach to do that."
Toronto Rehab offers AGE-WELL scientists access to the iDAPT Centre for Rehabilitation Research facilities—the only one of its kind – offering a prototyping workshop and simulated environments such as HomeLab that is already used by Dr. Mihailidis and his team to work on advanced technologies such as smart sensors, mobile communications and robotics to help people age at home.
The network will identify the needs of aging adults and their caregivers and find ways, through collaboration with researchers, industry and the community across Canada, to address these issues with technology solutions, and social and service innovations.
"Our 21 industry partners are critical to the success of AGE-WELL," said Dr. Mihailidis. "They are the ones who are going to take the research and knowledge that we generate in the academic institution and get it into the hands of the users."
The network will start with 24 research projects. Examples of potential technologies AGE-WELL will focus on developing include: applications that will help caregivers of aging adults, robotics in the home, smart home systems and even technologies that can automatically detect pain in people with dementia.
"This is not only going to be regarded as a ground-breaking activity in Canada," said Dr. Geoff Fernie, Institute Director, Research, Toronto Rehab. "This is going to be looked at around the world. There is not another program addressing technology and aging of this size and cohesion anywhere else."
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