Research at Toronto Rehab
Toronto Rehab research is all about finding solutions through innovative interventions, clinical practices and technologies to improve the lives of people living with the effects of disability, illness and aging. Our research benefits people whose lives have been affected by conditions such as stroke, cancer, brain injury, heart disease, spinal cord injury, hip fracture, and Alzheimer’s disease.
We are developing:
• New and improved treatments and technologies that increase the level and speed of recovery
• Affordable technologies that increase accessibility and enable people to age in place in their homes and communities
• Technologies that enhance the safety and effectiveness of caregivers
• Technologies and interventions to prevent injuries and disease that lead to disability and to help achieve and sustain fitness.
Our research program also assists the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in the provision of equitable and cost effective rehabilitation services.
Toronto Rehab research is:
• innovative and practical – harnessing the power of technology, industry and bright research minds to find practical solutions to everyday challenges experienced by those affected by injury, disability and advancing age
• collaborative, as Toronto Rehab works with a broad network of Canadian and international partners committed to generating new knowledge in rehabilitation science and applying it to enhance people’s lives
• commercialization-focused, as it supports research that leads to the development of new and marketable assistive technologies, devices and products and is home to the Ontario Rehabilitation Technology Consortium
• unique, as it is the only adult hospital in Ontario with a mandate to advance rehabilitation science through research and is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive rehabilitation research programs
Collaborative Research Environment
Toronto Rehab’s cross-functional research teams perform in a collaborative and multidisciplinary environment. Working with clinicians, students and investigators from the University of Toronto and other top academic institutions in Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world, research teams turn innovative ideas into practical solutions, interventions and products. In all, more than 85 scientists and over 150 graduate and postdoctoral students conduct research in eight areas:
The Activity Team conducts research to improve participation in daily life for older individuals and those who have experienced a stroke, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. Researchers are developing new therapies and clinical assessment tools, as well as assistive technologies.
The Cardiopulmonary Fitness Team identifies best practices for cardiac rehabilitation. Researchers are working to improve access to rehabilitation services, and developing new models to improve the effectiveness of exercise and lifestyle interventions.
The Cognition Team is working to prevent brain injury and to improve recovery for people living with brain injury. Researchers are developing therapies, identifying best practices, and conducting population-based research.
The Communication Team undertakes research to improve assessment and treatment of communication deficits related to aging, in particular to, neurological conditions such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. The team also develops new assistive technologies that aid communication.
The Mobility Team develops therapeutic techniques and assistive technologies to improve people’s mobility and reduce the risk of falling. Researchers are also devising new training programs and equipment to improve health among those with neurological injury.
Optimization of the Rehabilitation System
Team Optimize investigates ways of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of all aspects of rehabilitation service delivery. Team Optimize is also home to the Strategic Policy and Research Communications (SPARC) unit, which acts as a liaison between Toronto Rehab researchers, provincial rehabilitation stakeholders and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The Sleep Team focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. The team is investigating the causes of sleep apnea, and the impact of treating the condition on patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
The Technology Team develops technologies to help people live more safely and independently in their own homes and communities, and to assist family and professional caregivers. The team also prepares advanced equipment that researchers and industry partners can use to produce meaningful products for the market.
iDAPT – A World First in Rehab Science
Toronto Rehab is home to one of the world’s most advanced rehabilitation research environments.
iDAPT (Intelligent Design for Adaptation, Participation and Technology) is a $36-million research infrastructure facilities project that brings together the brightest research minds and state-of-the-art technology. When fully operational in 2011, iDAPT will consist of 12 laboratories, workshops and other research spaces located throughout Toronto’s Discovery District with a focus on sharing new knowledge and creating treatments and assistive technologies to enhance lives affected by disability and age.
Among our iDAPT facilities:
Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL)
This huge underground lab will feature the world’s first hydraulic motion simulator that can mimic everyday environmental challenges faced by older people and those with disabling injury or illness. Using a multitude of customizable testing environments, researchers will be able to recreate conditions such as ice and snow, different terrain and slopes. This will allow researchers to safely and accurately measure the difficulties encountered in the real world. The lab will also be used to evaluate the impact of new treatments, devices and technologies developed at Toronto Rehab. CEAL will be fully operational by February 2011.
Controlled Climate Performance Lab
The temperature and humidity in this lab can be changed to replicate a range of environmental conditions from frozen winter (-20C) to stifling summer (+35C) and up to 95% RH (relative humidity). Investigators are using the lab to develop and test state-of-the-art winter clothing and footwear that is safe and user-friendly for older people and those with disabilities. 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. This lab is fully operational.
IATSL – HomeLab
This “home within a lab” will provide a setting where researchers can create and test new tools to help older people and those with disabilities stay at home longer and more safely. The Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab - HomeLab will resemble a typical single-storey dwelling. With functional plumbing and wiring, people will be able to occupy the living space and test innovations. An overhead catwalk and suspended grid will enable devices, such as overhead lifts and ceiling-mounted monitoring systems, to be tested. The lab will be used to study challenges people face in their homes and to test artificial intelligence and other approaches that support aging in place. Research will also focus on easing the burden on family caregivers. This lab will open in February 2011.
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, or to build complicated parts that cannot be made with traditional techniques. 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 the living, working and learning environments. The workshop is also equipped for machining of metal and plastic, welding, and woodworking. Contract work from other research institutions and the private sector is welcome. The workshop is fully operational.
Rehabilitation Engineering Lab
This lab 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.
Investigators develop sophisticated neuroprostheses, neurorehabilitation systems, brain machine interfaces, and diverse assistive technologies. The 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. This lab is fully operational.
iDAPT facilities also include labs to study sleep, swallowing, mobility and biomechanics, to name but a few, and workshops to develop assistive technologies. In all, iDAPT consists of over 65,000 square feet of newly created or renovated research space at Toronto Rehab’s University and Lyndhurst Centres and the Rehabilitation Sciences building of the University of Toronto.
Join The ‘Club’
Rehabilitation research is poised for exponential growth and Toronto Rehab is well positioned to lead the way. iDAPT embraces collaboration and welcomes both industry and research institutions as partners in developing meaningful products. Join our industry-friendly research ‘Club’ and an organization that is committed to working with researchers, students, clinicians and the private sector as equal partners.
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
550 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Lois Ward, Research Services Manager
Phone: 416-597-3422, ext. 7600
Dayle Levine, iDAPT Project Manager
Phone: 416-597-3422, ext. 7602