Engineering in a Clinical Setting

IBBME’s clinical engineers design technologies, devices and strategies for people with chronic disease, traumatic injury, disabilities and mobility limitations to help them integrate more fully with their environment.

Video games: a new therapeutic frontier

Professor Elaine Biddiss

As a clinical engineer and scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Professor Elaine Biddiss leads the Possibility Engineering and Research Lab (PEARL) to develop interactive technologies that assist young people with disabilities to accomplish rehabilitation goals.

One area of PEARL’s research focus is virtual reality therapy — an interactive, low-cost series of video games that impose virtual constraints to encourage therapeutic movements and can be customized to an individual’s rehabilitation needs. This particular innovation, along with several other developments from her lab, engages children with disabilities and mobility challenges to complete repetitive therapy tasks and foster social interactions through multiplayer options.

It’s exciting and inspiring to work with students, researchers,clinicians, children and their families to engineer technologiesthat support young people with disabilities in reaching their goals. Working in a hospital setting brings clinical engineering to the frontline of health care, where real-world challenges can be met with innovative thinking and creative solutions.” —Professor Elaine Biddiss

Enabling mobility for those with physical disabilities

Professor Jan Andrysek

A typical artificial limb costs several thousands of dollars. Professor Jan Andrysek’s All-Terrain Knee (AT-Knee), developed at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, is high-functioning, durable, and costs a fraction of that price.

As a clinical engineer and scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Andrysek leads the Paediatrics, Rehabilitation, Orthotics, Prosthetics, Engineering and Locomotion (PROPEL) Lab. Its study of human biomechanics allows them to develop and innovate affordable treatments and assistive technologies that enable mobility for individuals with severe physical disabilities.

Today, his spinoff company, LegWorks, is producing the AT-Knee to help amputees around the world regain their mobility and independence.

Engineering personalized rehab for spinal cord injuries

Professor Jose Zariffa

Improvements in arm and hand functions are crucial to independence for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

As an expert in measuring nervous system functions, Professor José Zariffa’s team at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute uses wearable camera technologies to develop video processing algorithms that capture information about how patients interact with their environments after neurological trauma. The data can then be used to develop rehabilitation solutions customized to the pace and ability of an individual’s recovery process, increasing their quality of life.

His team recently presented the first system capable of tracking functional use of the hand.