The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) is a teaching and research hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and part of the University Health Network (UHN). TRI has built the most advanced rehabilitation research and development facility in the world. The centrepiece of the new iDAPT facilities is the Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratory (CEAL). Located deep below the hospital’s University Centre, this massive subterranean simulation laboratory allows researchers to safely and accurately study how older adults and people with disabilities interact with their environment. The goal of this research is to develop practical solutions that will help people live as fully and independently as possible.
CEAL is equipped with a large moving platform similar to those found supporting sophisticated flight simulators. However, instead of a single aircraft cockpit, CEAL will have up to 5 very large, unique, interchangeable environmental labs that can be lifted onto it using an overhead crane. So far, three of these special environments have been built: 1) StairLab has a flight of adjustable instrumented stairs and a robotic safety system to study the growing problem of falls on stairs; 2) WinterLab has an ice floor, cold winds and snow for studying slip resistant footwear for preventing winter falls and performance of wheelchairs and other devices for enhancing winter mobility; 3) StreetLab has a high resolution virtual replica of downtown Toronto including pedestrians and vehicles for studying safety issues presented by complex environments for people with strokes, head injuries, or vision and hearing loss. A fourth lab is being developed to study how to increase the safety of older drivers (DriverLab).
Geoff Fernie, Institute Director