The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) is at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today – rehabilitation science. A fully affiliated teaching and research hospital of the University of Toronto, Toronto Rehab is dedicated to advancing rehabilitation and enhancing quality of life for the 3.6 million Canadians, and millions more worldwide, living with disabling injury and illness or age-related conditions.
RESEARCH AT TORONTO REHAB
The goal of research at Toronto Rehab is to improve the quality of life of people in Canada and throughout the world who live with the effects of disabling injury and illness such as stroke, cancer, spinal cord injury, heart disease, brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease. To help meet its goal, research at Toronto Rehab is:
- innovative and practical – harnessing the power of technology, industry and bright research mindsto find real solutions to everyday challenges experienced by those affected by injury and disability
- collaborative, as Toronto Rehab works with a broad network of Canadian and international partnerscommitted to generating new knowledgein rehabilitation science and applying it to improving 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 hospital in Ontario with a mandate to advance rehabilitation science through research and is home to one of the fastest growing rehab research programs of its kind in Canada
COLLABORATIVE REHABILITATION RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT
Toronto Rehab’s cross-functional research teams perform in a collaborative and multidisciplinary environment. Working collaboratively 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 regularly turn innovative ideas into practical solutions, interventions and products. In all, more than 60 scientists and over 100 graduate and post doctoral students lead research in the following seven areas:
The Activity Team investigates the physical abilities people need to participate in society, with an emphasis on restoring function following stroke and spinal cord injury, and on treatment for people with swallowing disorders.
The Cognition Team focuses on the causes and treatments of brain injuries resulting from accidents and stroke.
The Communication Team studies how to improve communication between Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, new assistive devices that aid communication and new treatments to improve and restore speech after stroke.
The Mobility Team focuses on all aspects of mobility, including walking (with or without aids), wheeling (manual and powered wheelchairs) and driving.
Optimization of the Rehabilitation System
Team Optimize investigates ways of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of all aspects of rehabilitation service delivery. The Strategic Policy and Research Communication (SPARC) unit has been created to identify and respond to opportunities for knowledge translation between Toronto Rehab researchers and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Sleep and Cardiopulmonary Function
The Sleep and Cardiopulmonary Function Team studies treatments for sleep apnea and identifies best practices for cardiac rehabilitation.
The Technology Team focuses on the development of innovative portable instrumentation to take research out of the laboratory and into the community, and the development of assistive devices and environmental designs that function well in the challenging environments of community living.
iDAPT – A WORLD FIRST IN REHAB SCIENCE
Toronto Rehab is building iDAPT, a $36 million comprehensive research centre consisting of an integrated network of facilities that will make it the one of the most advanced and sophisticated rehabilitation research initiatives of its kind in the world. The centrepiece of Toronto Rehab’s growing research program, iDAPT will consist of 14 different research labs located throughout Toronto’s Discovery District focused on sharing new knowledge and creating treatments and new assistive technologies that will improve lives affected by disability and age.
Construction of iDAPT is organized into two phases. Phase-one construction is complete, with the following new or expanded labs now open:
Rapid Prototyping Lab
The cutting-edge Rapid Prototyping Lab, located at Toronto Rehab’s University Centre, supports the development of electronics design and circuit-board prototyping, metal/plastic machining, forming, fabricating and finishing using computer-controlled milling and 3D shape sensing. In this lab that features the largest stereolithography machine in Canada, new technology and assistive devices are explored, designed, prototyped and studied – providing the emerging assistive devices sector with access to advanced product development facilities under one roof. Contract work from other research institutions and the private sector is welcome.
Cardiopulmonary Function Lab
This lab has been specially designed to study exercise treatments for cardiac failure under different climatic conditions. The temperature and humidity in this lab can be changed to replicate a range of environmental conditions to develop exercise programs and other interventions that are safe and practical for our environment.
Equipped with advanced tools to study oral movements during swallowing, this lab is believed to be the most sophisticated in Canada looking at dysphagia and swallowing disorders – a major health concern for those affected by such conditions as stroke, brain injury or Parkinson’s disease.
Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Lab
Located at Toronto Rehab’s Lyndhurst Centre – home to Canada’s largest in-patient spinal cord rehabilitation program – this lab is integrated with other iDAPT facilities in downtown Toronto. The lab allows researchers to study patients with spinal cord injuries during their rehabilitation and after discharge to help find new techniques, therapies and assistive devices that improve function and independence.
In addition, three laboratories (Communicative Function Laboratory, Intelligent Environment Laboratory and Physical Function Laboratory) located at the Rehabilitation Sciences Building at 500 University Avenue are operational.
iDAPT LABS ON THE HORIZON
Phase-two construction of iDAPT labs will be completed by 2010, unveiling some of the most advanced rehabilitation research environments in the world:
Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL)
CEAL will feature the world’s first hydraulic motion simulator designed to mimic everyday environmental challenges faced by older people and individuals with disabling injury or illness. Using a multitude of customizable testing environments, CEAL will be able to recreate conditions such as ice and snow, different terrain and slopes, and vehicular motion to safely and accurately measure the difficulties encountered in the real world. It will also be used to evaluate the impact of new treatments, devices or technologies developed at Toronto Rehab.
Home Environment Laboratory
This state-of-the-art lab will enable researchers to develop and test artificial intelligence and other assistive technologies in a home setting and will feature a typical single-storey dwelling to allow scientists to develop new tools to help people overcome the challenges they face in their own homes.
iDAPT facilities will also include labs to study biomechanics, mobility, communication, sleep and stroke. In all, iDAPT will comprise more than 60,000 square feet of research space located 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.