$36 million iDAPT project officially
TORONTO – It
will be one of the world’s most advanced rehabilitation research and
development facilities – a place where new therapies and assistive
technologies will be developed for people recovering from, and living
with, disabling injury or illness.
The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) has officially
announced its $36 million research initiative – iDAPT (Intelligent
Design for Adaptation, Participation and Technology).
Located in the heart of Canada’s ‘Discovery District’ in downtown
Toronto, approximately 60,000 square feet of renovated and newly
constructed space for 14 different research laboratories will be
dedicated to the iDAPT facilities and rehabilitation research.
Led by Dr. Geoff Fernie, Toronto Rehab’s Vice President, Research, in
collaboration with the University of Toronto, iDAPT will bring together
the brightest research minds and state-of-the-art technology in a
collaborative venture, one that involves hundreds of scientists,
research students, clinicians, social scientists, engineers and
industrial designers from across Canada and beyond.
“iDAPT offers new hope,” says Dr. Fernie. “iDAPT will help people with
disabilities and older people to adapt to new challenges and equip them
with assistive devices that actually work in the real world so that they
can get on with their lives.”
iDAPT facilities will enable researchers to safely study the complex
interactions between people and their environment and help people with
disabilities adapt to their new challenges, and equip them with
innovative and well-designed products that they will actually use and
“Until now, our ability to study how people with disabilities and older
people function in the real world has been limited by a lack of the
unique facilities that iDAPT will provide,” says Dr. Fernie.
“Current assistive devices often do not function well in real-life
environments, are generally not attractively designed or as user
friendly as consumers would like.”
“Getting around in winter is an issue. As soon as there is snow on the
ground or ice, traction becomes a problem”, says John Shepherd, spinal
cord injury survivor and former Toronto Rehab patient.
“I’ve learned that as soon as there’s more than maybe an inch, or inch
and a half of snow, I simply can’t go outside. It’s not that it’s
difficult for me to go outside. I just literally can’t move. I can’t get
groceries, I can’t go to the pharmacy, can’t do the most basic things,
never mind get to my job, go see friends, or have asocial life.”
John adds that assistive devices are designed by people who may not
understand the needs of users well. iDAPT facilities will enable
researchers and designers to produce more user-friendly assistive
devices and technologies that people with disabilities will actually use
and benefit from. The demand for rehabilitation therapies and assistive
technologies, such as wheelchairs and other mobility aids, is increasing
as Canada’s population ages and more lives are saved, thanks to advances
in medical science and technology.
The number of people with disabilities is on the rise worldwide. In
Canada alone, over 3.6 million (about one in eight) Canadians currently
have a significant disability. Disability affects most Canadian families
at some time – and costs the Canadian economy an estimated $60 billion
Part of the Toronto Rehab’s multi-million dollar capital redevelopment,
iDAPT will be housed at the hospital’s University Centre (550 University
Ave., Toronto) and Lyndhurst Centre (520 Sutherland Dr., Toronto) and in
the Rehabilitation Sciences building at the University of Toronto (500
University Ave., Toronto). iDAPT facilities will include:
• a state-of-the-art, subterranean laboratory called the Challenging
Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL) that will be built deep below
the hospital’s soon-to-be redeveloped University Centre. It will be
equipped with a giant hydraulic simulator that can generate winter-like
conditions, including ice, snow, howling winds and slopes. A motion
simulator will enable researchers to safely test people’s balance and
mobility devices in real-life situations;
• a typical hospital patient-care room, with an overhead catwalk for
observation, where researchers can develop and test new technologies to
assist nurses and reduce caregiver injuries;
• a laboratory featuring a modest single-story house where researchers
can develop artificial intelligence and smart home technologies to help
people with dementia and other disabilities to live as independently as
possible, and improve their quality of life; and
• a movement evaluation laboratory that will advance research on
treatments for paralysis from stroke and spinal cord injury.
Building on existing Toronto Rehab research, iDAPT will also include a
sleep laboratory where scientists can advance recent findings linking
treatment for sleep disturbances to better patient outcomes.
Several iDAPT laboratories and workshops are already open and research
is currently taking place. The Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory at
the hospital’s Lyndhurst Centre, for example, is already working on
research to help restore or replace functions of the human neuromuscular
system once damaged. New and innovative assistive devices are being
designed and prototyped in the interdisciplinary Research and Design
Studio and cutting-edge Rapid Prototyping Workshop.
It is anticipated that the remaining iDAPT labs and workspaces –
including the hallmark of iDAPT, CEAL – will be operational by 2011,
when the University Centre redevelopment is expected to be complete.
Funding for iDAPT has been provided by the federal government through
the Canada Foundation for Innovation, by the provincial government
through the Ontario Innovation Trust and the Ontario Ministry of
Research and Innovation, as well as by Toronto Rehab Foundation, the
University of Toronto and private donors.
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) is at the forefront of
one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today –
rehabilitation science. Toronto Rehab is one of Canada’s leading
academic rehabilitation science centres providing adult rehabilitation
services, complex continuing care, and long-term care. More information
is available at: