Clinical Engineering

BME’s clinical engineers design technologies, devices and strategies for people with chronic disease, traumatic injury, disabilities and mobility limitations to help them integrate more fully with their environment.

Check out the case studies below to learn about the exciting research done here at BME:

Neural Rehabilitation

IBBME researchers are investigating neural pathways and sensory communications in order to design technologies and rehabilitation solutions for the elderly, disabled and those affected by chronic disease. (Image Credit: Neil Ta)
Accessing the right to communication for children and youth with complex disabilities

Professor Tom Chau helps young people with complex disabilities connect with the world around them.

As a senior scientist and vice-president of research at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Chau leads the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM) Lab to develop sensing, signal processing and machine-learning methods that enable children and youth with various disabilities to communicate and interact with their environment.

One of his recent foci is to use a non-invasive technique known as near-infrared spectroscopy — to decode brain patterns in young people with severe neurological disability. The signals can then be articulated through various access technologies to enable communication between the patient and their caregivers.


Enabling mobility for those with physical disabilities

A typical artificial limb costs several thousands of dollars. Professor Jan Andrysek’s All-Terrain Knee (AT-Knee), developed at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, is high-functioning, durable, and costs a fraction of that price.

As a clinical engineer and scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Andrysek leads the Paediatrics, Rehabilitation, Orthotics, Prosthetics, Engineering and Locomotion (PROPEL) Lab. Its study of human biomechanics allows them to develop and innovate affordable treatments and assistive technologies that enable mobility for individuals with severe physical disabilities.

Today, his spinoff company, LegWorks, is producing the AT-Knee to help amputees around the world regain their mobility and independence.

Interactive Technology

Video games: a new therapeutic frontier

As a clinical engineer and scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Professor Elaine Biddiss leads the Possibility Engineering and Research Lab (PEARL) to develop interactive technologies that assist young people with disabilities to accomplish rehabilitation goals.

One area of PEARL’s research focus is virtual reality therapy — an interactive, low-cost series of video games that impose virtual constraints to encourage therapeutic movements and can be customized to an individual’s rehabilitation needs. This particular innovation, along with several other developments from her lab, engages children with disabilities and mobility challenges to complete repetitive therapy tasks and foster social interactions through multiplayer options.

Read more news about clinical engineering

Robotics for elder care: New joint centre fosters global collaboration

June 1, 2020 | The new joint centre on robotics for elder care is led by professors Alex Mihailidis (IBBME, Medicine) and Yan Fu at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

COVID-19: ECE team programs single-board computers to remotely monitor patients and protect health care workers

April 16, 2020 | A U of T Engineering team, led by Professor Willy Wong (ECE/IBBME) has created a simple, scalable solution to remotely monitor the vital signs of COVID-19 patients. This technology could help preserve vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers.

U of T startup develops technology that encourages hand hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID19

April 13, 2020 | Dr. Geoff Fernie is developing a wearable technology that reminds first-line responders to wash their hands despite their busy schedules. This technology could significantly reduce the spread of Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs) including COVID19.

As COVID-19 protective supplies dwindle, U of T Engineering grad students are stitching face masks for Toronto

April 03, 2020 | U of T Engineering graduate students Kramay Patel (IBBME MD/PhD candidate) and Chaim Katz (IBBME PhD candidate) are temporarily trading in their electrodes and amplifiers for sewing machines and cotton threads.

Engineering the brain: the promise of neural engineering in medicine

October 31, 2019 | In conversation with Dr. José Zariffa on how the field could address conditions from Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss.

They want to contribute to social good and improve patient recovery: Meet two undergraduate students pursuing summer research projects in IBBME

May 30, 2018 | Ian Christie and Anya Friesen are two students participating in IBBME’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program this year.

Purple Day: Meet U of T students researching new ways to understand epilepsy

March 26, 2018 | Several teams of biomedical engineering graduate students are working on solutions to improve treatments and quality of life for individuals facing the neurological disease.

Recent PhD graduate’s first-of-its-kind tech gives 15-year-old a unique chance to communicate: CBC News

January 22, 2018 | Amanda Fleury’s fabric-based sensors helps persons with disabilities converse by translating electrical signals generated by blinking.

IBBME researchers use DriverLab simulator to focus on driver behaviour and safety

October 24, 2017 | Professor Geoff Fernie and his team at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute are steering research into autonomous car safety.

Google Glass app helps autistic children with social interactions

September 19, 2017 | Professor Azadeh Kushki’s Google Glass app can recognize conversational prompts and provide the user with suitable responses in return.