Integrated Simulation Solutions

How simulation can support rehabilitation research

Improving Quality of Life

Mobility is a crucial factor for disabled people and the elderly to remain independent. It improves the quality of their lives and makes them less dependent on (intensive) home care. To increase the chances of success, rehabilitation research plays an important role. Findings in rehabilitation research show that postural disturbances can accelerate the ability of disabled people to adapt to challenges in everyday life. It also shows that coordinated visual information further accelerates learning. Simulation technology can play an important role in this process. Diagnosis can be improved through “dynamic testing” by actively challenging patients with dynamic disturbances. Medical research simulators enable researchers to analyze human responses to disturbances in realistic environment and to test imporved and new assistive devices.

IDT is currently involved in the developement of a unique rehabilitation research simulator for the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The simulator will provide a lot of possibilities and capabilities for researchers to explore new areas of rehabilitation research and therapy and to test out devices in environments that are almost not reproducible in reality.

With our experiences from this project, IDT sees many new ways to use simulation technology for the improvement of therapies and testing environments for assistive devices, offering disabled people and the elderly a better quality of life.

The Challenging Environment Assessment Simulator

  

Photo courtesy Tilak Dutta

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is one of the world most foremost and innovative research institutes and plays a leading role in rehabilitation research and development of assistive devices. Together with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and its partners, IDT has developed and realized the Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL) in a new dedicated basement facility under the institute hospital. The project commenced in 2005 and was completed in 2011.

CEAL Payloads

CEAL represents the integration of knowledge in flight simulation applied to create environments for studying human balance and locomotive behaviour. The high-performance 60-inch-stroke hydraulic motion platform delivers accelerations and create inclines to the cabins that can be mounted onto its upper frame. The cabins represent three environments; a visual surround dome called StreetLab and which is equipped with a treadmill and a wheelchair simulator, an ice chamber (with a real ice floor, wind and snow) named WinterLab and which is used to simulate cold weather climates, and a generic cabin called StairsLab for multi-purpose research and stair climbing in particular.

  

Photo courtesy Tilak Dutta

In all of these environments, a high-performance real-time computing platform will be used to monitor and stimulate the participants. Computer-generated imagery will be incorporated as a way of representing the visual environment. Research will concentrate on creating realistic, reproducible challenges facing persons with varying grades of mobility, illness, and age related conditions and to effectively develop new assistive devices. All of this is made possible through the proper integration of the stimuli with human participants.

In the project, IDT has been responsible for the entire system integration, building facility interfaces and overall project management.

  

Photo courtesy Tilak Dutta

DriverLab

Following the development of the CEAL simulator, IDT is currently developing a driving research simulator as the next payload. The driving simulator will be used to assess the driving skills of (elderly) people and to investigate the effect of weather conditions, glare, traffic and devices such as navigation aids and mobile phones on the driver performance. The driving simulator will be equipped with simulation systems never seen before in any existing driving simulator. Stay tuned for more news about this unique and exciting project!

Falls Lab

IDT is also the integrator of the FallsLab. The FallsLab is another fall research facility at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The FallsLab consists of a 3 by 7 m large motion platform which can move in two (planar) directions. The FallsLab is used to induce falls with subjects my suddenly accelerating the platform. The platform surface is entirely equipped with mounted force plates and a motion capture system. This allows researchers to monitor the subject movement in real-time and control the platform motions.

For more information, please have a look at the iDAPT page of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. A nice video about the CEAL laboratory and iDAPT facilities can be found here.

 

 

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