Wednesday, 17 October 2012

RATs go to Toronto

Mark Hawley and Richard France recently visited a number of research groups in Toronto. The purpose of this visit was to establish links with leading international researchers and look at some of the newly established facilities.

The first visit was with Geoff Fernie and his team at Toronto Rehab - a leading rehabilitation sciences centre with impressive research laboratories within the new iDAPT centre. The Challenging Environment Assessment Lab features a motion simulator base with a variety of attachable labs - e.g. WinterLab, StreetLab or StairLab - which mimic some of the everyday challenges faced by older people, people with disabilities or those undergoing rehabilitation. The Home Lab replicates a real world home environment for researchers to develop new solutions to enable independent living. This was of particular interest to Sheffield, as we will be establishing a similar facility within the Centre for Assistive Technology and Digital Healthcare.

The Challenging Environment  Assessment Lab
 Further visits were held with researchers at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Tom Chau heads up the PRISM lab where the focus is developing new technologies to assist children and young people with disabilities and special needs. Tom’s group put on a number of impressive demonstrations of new access technologies to enable better communication, computer use and creative expression. Elaine Biddiss’s research is focused on enabling disabled children to participate more fully in music, arts and physical activity. A recent project included the design and development of an interactive display for the waiting area at the hospital (watch a great video about this on Elaine’s website).

A final visit with Joe Cafazzo at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation concluded the trip. Researchers within the Healthcare Human Factors Group are working on new mobile technologies to enable self-care, such as Bant, a smartphone app to facilitate self-management of diabetes.

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