Virtual tours of UHN's CEAL space now live

Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory
Toronto Rehab’s Kite Research Institute now offers virtual tour of Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL).(Photo: UHN)

Take a virtual walk through the Kite Research Institute's Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL) and get a behind the scenes look at the space dubbed "Rehab NASA."

Located two storeys below busy University Avenue, Toronto Rehab's CEAL is home to four state-of-the-art simulators and a massive motion base that can recreate many common challenging environments known to people.

One of UHN's many hidden gems, the lab allows scientists to recreate icy floors, slippery bathtubs, noisy streets and hazardous driving conditions to uncover the science behind falls in an effort to prevent injury. This is especially important given falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death, especially in older adults.

With the arrival of the pandemic, KITE was forced to cancel all in-person tours and visits, but with the launch of its new virtual tours, everyone can walk through the space and get a behind the scenes look into the life-saving research that takes place in these simulators.

Discover the technology, engineering and science that puts Toronto Rehab and the KITE Research Institute on the map as the top rehab research hospital in the world. 

Patients share notes of gratitude for TeamUHN

Card and compass pin
Seeing members of TeamUHN wearing a compass pin (L) is an indication they have been recognized by a patient for “walking the talk” when it comes to the UHN Patient Declaration of Values. (Photo: UHN)

Gratitude and recognition from patients to TeamUHN staff members means so much — even more so during these challenging times.

UHN Patient Relations receives more than 400 notes every year from grateful patients and families thanking staff for everything, from exceptional clinical care to a warm smile during a scary moment; and it's often the little things that mean the most.

For example, a patient recently shared that they were "moved to tears" when a staff member noticed they were struggling to access their phone charger and stepped in to help. The staff changed their IV pole to one with a USB port so they could stay connected to loved ones while in the hospital.

The empathy and compassion shown by this staff member went a long way to making that patient truly feel seen and cared for.

Empathy and Compassion is one of the five core values of the UHN Patient Declaration of Values (DOV). The DoV was co-created with patients and the values serve as a foundation and guide for how TeamUHN can plan and provide care that is reflective of patient needs and priorities.

Keep an eye out for staff wearing a DoV Compass pin. The pin means they received kudos from a patient, and it is recognition for truly "walking the talk" when it comes to living the values that UHN's patients have told us are most important to them.

According to our Patient Partner Sponsors for this work, "whenever you lose your way, your compass – and in this case our values – points us in the right direction."

Canadian Concussion Centre finds measuring blood flow dysfunction as possible path to diagnosing concussion

Dr. David Mikulis
Dr. David Mikulis, Senior Scientist, Krembil Brain Institute, and the principal investigator of a study that suggests dysfunction in the brain’s network of blood vessels might be a better indicator to detect the presence of acute concussion. (Photo: UHN)

Is blood flow more sensitive than changes in brain matter to detect concussion?

A group of researchers at the Krembil Brain Institute's Canadian Concussion Centre thinks so, publishing findings in the Journal of Neurotrauma that suggest dysfunction in the brain's network of blood vessels might be a better indicator to detect the presence of acute concussion.

"Concussion, as we know, has been particularly elusive when it comes to having an accurate test to establish a diagnosis," says Dr. David Mikulis, Senior Scientist, Krembil Brain Institute and the principal investigator of the study.

"These findings are encouraging in helping us narrow down an effective biomarker to finally properly diagnose this condition."

Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, the research team measured cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR). CVR measurements can show how fast and how much brain blood vessels open when provided with a stimulus. Carbon dioxide was used as the brief stimulus to open the vessels since it causes blood vessels to relax almost instantly thereby rapidly increasing blood flow in the brain. 

CVR metrics of 20 concussed patients in the first week after injury were compared to 20 healthy individuals using a blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) MRI. The study found that the size and speed of blood vessel opening in response to carbon dioxide was greater in the concussed patients. 

"The stronger than normal response we observed caught us off-guard, since other diseases always show slower and decreased opening of the vessel," notes Dr. Mikulis. "Furthermore, the effect was so strong that if we tested a group of 20 individuals containing one person with concussion with this method, we would be able to pick out the person with concussion."

These preliminary findings also revealed there may be sex-specific differences when it comes to how the injury affects men and women, possibly based on differences in hormones. It also suggests that headaches experienced after sustaining a concussion may be caused by large swings in blood flow from abnormal blood flow regulation.

"These findings aren't a complete surprise as we know that blood flow is disrupted when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury," Dr. Mikulis explains. "But seeing this greater than normal response when we stimulate the blood vessels was eye opening, indicating that measurement of CVR metrics may provide a possible path to acute concussion diagnosis and possibly prognosis."

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