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

Tom Chau with Students in his lab testing neural sensory device
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.


Jan Andrysek with patient testing out a prosthetic leg
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

students at a conference
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

A helping hand for neurorehabilitation

May 19, 2021 | Dr. Jose Zariffa and his research team are developing tools that enable clinicians to evaluate rehabilitation success and track recovery. The goal is to create a personalized process for the improvement of rehabilitation from spinal cord injuries and stroke, accelerating the affected individuals back on the road to recovery.

Alex Mihailidis

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.

fingertip probe monitor

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.

Hand washing

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.

Kramay Patel wearing a mask

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.

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