Canada to be home to one-of-a-kind research facility

    iDAPT offers new hope to people living with disabilities

    TORONTO, Oct. 3 /CNW/ - 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) today 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 benefit from.
    "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 in
situ 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 a
social 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
    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 annually.

    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, 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

    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:

    B-Roll footage, including high-quality animation of iDAPT's CEAL, is
available via satellite Wednesday October 3, 2007 at:
    11:00am - 11:30 and again at 14:00 - 14:30 Eastern
    Anik F2, C-Band, Transponder 7B @111.1 West
    Vertical Polarization, D/L Freq. 3980MHz.
    Audio subcarriers 6.8 left, 6.2 right

    Also available at Toronto T.O.C. at the same times
    Magnacom NOVSXS 225340 -002 (SDI Router Position No. 42)

    For more information on iDAPT, go to

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: To book interviews with our Toronto, Quebec, or
British Columbia spokespeople, or for high-resolution photos of iDAPT, please
contact Carolyn Lovas, Media Relations Specialist, Toronto Rehab, (416)
597-3422, ext. 3837,

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