iDAPT stands for intelligent Design, Adaptation, Participation and Technology. Located at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network. It is devoted to research problems arising from injury, illness or medical conditions that fall into the general category of rehabilitation. In practice, this means that iDAPT deals with the issues of mobility, everyday living and special problems that arise when someone is injured, disabled or sick. Sometimes private or governmental organizations approach iDAPT with special problems. Many of the solutions that iDAPT researchers come up with are eventually commercialized.
Challenging Environments Assessment Labs
CEAL is the flagship project of iDAPT and consists of a motion base to simulate motion of various kinds, and a set of lab modules or payloads that can be mounted on the motion base or used independently when motion is not required.
The motion base is mounted on a four metres thick concrete base, and when a lab payload is on it, reaches two stories in height. Adjacent to the motion base bay is the storage/research area that hosts the lab payloads. Currently there are three of these: WinterLab, which simulates show and ice conditions; StairsLab, which simulates falls down stairs; and StreetLab, a 3-D virtual reality environment that simulates conditions on a typical urban street, and a lab payload to simulate driving.
Experimental participants all wear extensive motion-capture telemetry equipment similar to that used in the motion picture industry. Their interactions with the lab environments are captured by computers for analysis and used to create simulation programs that the engineers use to create new devices. As well, all the payloads are equipped with “soft-catch” robots that monitor experimental participants, who wear harnesses. The robot catches the patients gently during a fall, preventing injuries.
WinterLab is a small skating rink that can be flooded and frozen, and has facilities for creating snow and wind conditions (up to 50 km/h) to realistically simulate winter in Canada. Among the projects being investigated are the creation of special footwear for Canada Post, the design of wheelchairs that can function well in snow and ice conditions, and others involving mobility problems in winter. When placed on the motion base, WinterLab can simulate wheelchair ramps, hills, and other realistic problems.
It is estimated that about 3,800 people need to be hospitalized each year in Ontario alone due to a fall down stairs. The social and health care costs of these falls have been estimated to total to $8.8 billion per year. In StairsLab researchers investigate different stair designs for safety and utility in a variety of conditions. Examples would include emergency exits in nursing homes and hospitals, stairs in commercial premises, and others. When placed on the motion base, the lab can create falls, and simulate common problems like overstepping or understepping.
Persons in wheelchairs or on crutches, those with visions problems, Alzheimer’s patients, and others commonly have problems moving about in cities. StreetLab is a 3-D virtual reality environment that currently simulates about one block around the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. When placed on the motion base, the lab simulates stepping down off kerbs, cracks and imperfections in sidewalks, the rumbling of heavy trucks passing by, hills, ramps, and other common conditions of moving about in cities.
In StreetLab, patients walk (or roll, in the case of wheelchairs) on a treadmill as the environment unfolds about them in a realistic manner.
iDAPT DriverLab contains a full-sized passenger vehicle, mounted on a turntable. The vehicle maintains its original internal components (e.g., steering wheel, gas/brake pedals, seats, dashboards), but also contains customizable interfaces and sophisticated measurement tools, such as an eye-tracking system. The display includes a curved dome surrounding the entire car, high resolution stereoscopic projectors, and calibration hardware and software to create a seamless 360 degree field-of-view immersive experience.
HomeLab is designed to simulate a typical condo or home setting in Ontario. There is a kitchen, dining area, living room, bedroom, bathroom, various cupboards and stairs. Experimental participants and patients are studied as they attempt to navigate through routine tasks to see how their particular disability affects how they perform them. This can be done through telemetry, video and traditional observational techniques. These data are then used to develop assistive devices to allow persons with these conditions to live in their home environment without the need of the expensive assistance of healthcare workers.
CareLab is designed to simulate a typical hospital room setting, having a hospital bed, sink and toilet area. Much of the research done in CareLab involves the safety of healthcare workers as they go about routine tasks. Work in hospital settings, and the attendant risk of serious back injury from working with patients, is more dangerous than coal mining–traditionally considered to be a dangerous occupation. Therefore much of the work in CareLab involves the creation of devices to ease the burden of lifting and moving patients. The same telemetry and other research methods are used in CareLab as in HomeLab.