IBBME researchers are investigating neural pathways and sensory communications in order to design technologies and rehabilitation solutions for the elderly, disabled and those affected by chronic disease.
Accessing the right to communication for children and youth with complex disabilities
Professor Tom Chau helps young people with complex disabilities connect with the world around them.
As a senior scientist and vice-president of research at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Chau leads the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM) Lab to develop sensing, signal processing and machine-learning methods that enable children and youth with various disabilities to communicate and interact with their environment.
One of his recent foci is to use a non-invasive technique known as near-infrared spectroscopy — to decode brain patterns in young people with severe neurological disability. The signals can then be articulated through various access technologies to enable communication between the patient and their caregivers.
“Our research taps into different physiological modalities, extending communication beyond speech and gestures to allow kids with severe disabilities to interact more meaningfully with the world around them.” —Professor Tom Chau
Mapping human conditions to increase driving safety
As we age, certain conditions may affect our ability to operate safely with our environment. How do we enable the elderly to live independently and reduce burdens on their caregivers?
Professor Geoff Fernie is the director of research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. His research develops injury-prevention solutions for the aging population. One exciting new area of focus investigates human responses behind the wheel, particularly for seniors or individuals with certain limitations that could still drive safely under specific conditions.
Using an advanced simulator known as the DriverLab, these parameters are tested in a controlled environment and mapped out to develop metrics around driving skills and certain human limitations. The goal is to one day offer similar tests as an alternative to on-road assessments and provide more accurate data to help keep senior drivers safely on the road — within their level of ability.
Helping older Canadians maintain their quality of life
Professor Alex Mihailidis’ Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab comprises of engineering, computer science and medical researchers who are expanding the capabilities of assistive technologies using artificial intelligence to create zero-effort devices for persons with disabilities and elder health care.
He is also the scientific director of the $36.6 million AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) initiative, Canada’s first national research network in technology and aging.
Working with investigators and students at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, along with 25 universities and health-care research centres across the country, Mihailidis leads solutions that address complex issues in technology and aging through receptor-driven interdisciplinary research, training programs, partnerships, knowledge mobilization and the commercial development of technologies.