Mobile lab will promote bone health in
VANCOUVER – B.C.
Healthy Living and Sport Minister Ida Chong has unveiled the Centre for
Hip Health and Mobility mobile research lab, the first mobile facility of
its kind in Canada. The lab is dedicated to generating a better understanding
and bone health across the lifespan.
The mobile lab will travel to communities across the Lower Mainland and
eventually other areas of the province, visiting senior, child, and
adolescent health populations to collect information on mobility and
“In B.C., falls among seniors result in over 4,000 hip fractures
annually and approximately 20 percent die within a year,” said Chong,
who unveiled the research lab at an event at Vancouver General Hospital.
“This mobile lab is an innovative way for us to meet the current and
future needs of our aging population by providing information on the
most effective solutions to prevent, detect and treat problems that
affect bones and joints before they cause deterioration and damage.”
The unit cost around $500,000 including the truck and trailer, with an
additional $500,000 to equip it. The mobile lab is funded by the Canada
Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) innovation fund, the British Columbia
Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and a number of private donors,
including donors to the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, through a
The lab is part of a larger CFI/BCKDF and Ministry of Health
Services-funded program, the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. The
Ministry of Health Services provided one-time funding of $10 million to
support the work of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.
On average in B.C., fall-related hip fractures among seniors cost the
province over $75 million each year in direct hospital expenses.
“Our mobile research lab will reach previously unstudied and
hard-to-reach populations of seniors and youth, and help create a road
map for healthy aging,” said Dr. Heather McKay, director, Centre for Hip
Health and Mobility. “The information we collect will identify trends in
bone health and mobility across the lifespan. In other words, we can see
how and why in certain age groups or communities bone health remains
strong or deteriorates. Our investigators will also look at how mobility
affects cognition and vice versa.”
The lab will allow researchers to conduct tests on participants that may
include: bone imaging, physical activity, muscle function, falls risk,
as well as cognitive function in seniors.
“This new mobile lab will enable researchers to perform their
cutting-edge work right here in British Columbia,” said Dr. Eliot
Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “The Centre for Hip Health and
Mobility Mobile Research Lab is an impressive example of the type of
partnerships that are essential to ensure Canada’s success in the
knowledge-based economy and the CFI is proud to be a partner in this
venture. This facility represents what the CFI is all about: providing
the tools to institutions and researchers so that they can do the
leading edge research that will benefit all Canadians.”
The mobile lab unit also houses state-of-the art equipment for
bone-imaging, and falls risk screening tools for population-based
research. The equipment in the lab is capable of evaluating bone mass
and strength in 3-D, measuring total bone, fat and muscle mass in the
body and, predicting the future risk of falls with 75 percent accuracy.
“The mobile lab is illustrative of the type of translational research we
support at Vancouver Coastal Health,” said Dr. David Ostrow, president
and CEO, Vancouver Coastal Health. “Data made available by the lab,
along with other important research from the Centre for Hip Health and
Mobility, will assist in providing improved care and solutions for
“An excellent example of this are the VCH Fall Prevention Clinics, which
were developed based on earlier research presented by the Centre for Hip
Health and Mobility, and have been effective in preventing falls in the
The unit will also allow researchers to assess diverse and remote
populations that have until now been inaccessible due to lack of
equipment in these areas. The data gathered will provide researchers
with a representative sample of urban, rural and remote populations and
will identify B.C-specific trends in bone health and mobility.
“This lab is another example of how the University of British Columbia’s
Faculty of Medicine has become a province-wide enterprise,” said Dr.
Gavin Stuart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “Just as we expand our
educational programs throughout British Columbia, our researchers are
also reaching farther afield to get the most comprehensive, diverse data
about the health of the population of the province. The insights from
that information will ultimately inform our teaching of future health
professionals, and our continuing education programs for experienced
physicians and therapists.”
Established in 2004, the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM) is
based at Vancouver General Hospital. The Centre is a partnership between
the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine and Vancouver
Coastal Health (VCH) through the VCH Research Institute. CHHM is unique
in its commitment to enhance mobility through bone and joint health as a
means to enhance the quality of life for all Canadians.
One key focus of this internationally recognized research and teaching
centre is the cluster of clinicians and scientists with particular
expertise in hip health.
Posted Aug. 13/09.