Promoting healthy lives for all Ontarians through research, hospital partnerships, community initiatives and new technologies.
Helping Ontario deal with the grey tsunami
The rapid aging of the population requires creative solutions to confront the challenges to Ontario’s health-care system. McMaster University’s Institute for Research on Aging is helping transform the lives of the elderly population now and in the future. At the research institute, cross-faculty project teams engage with older Ontarians, their families, health-care providers and other stakeholders in the process from research to evaluation and the implementation of treatments, technologies and services. The institute also houses the Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging, a hub for research, education and community engagement in mobility to help create positive outcomes for older Ontarians, improving their physical and mental health and allowing them to live independent lives.
High-tech solutions for health-care problems
Health Ecosphere, a multipartner collaboration led by York University, Southlake Regional Health Centre and University Health Network, is an innovation pipeline to develop new health technologies that improve patient outcomes and make health care more efficient. The partners are working with businesses, other PSE institutions and research bodies in development of more than 50 projects, including a system to monitor movements in patients with neurological disorders; a mobile app to help obstructive pulmonary disease sufferers; a system to improve the safety and accuracy of laparoscopic surgery; and a data analytics system to reduce the frequency of emergency room readmissions.
Better workplace safety in the remote North
A mobile laboratory called M-CROSH travels across Northern Ontario providing workers with on-site training and clinical testing to improve occupational safety. The unique 40-foot vehicle, operated by Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH), visits workers in Northern industries such as mining, forestry, pulp and paper, and firefighting. It’s outfitted with innovative portable equipment to support research into factors such as fatigue, accident prevention, vibration-induced injury, heat stress, and nutrition to promote safety and evaluate new intervention programs.
Instant fentanyl testing to save lives
The deadly emergence of fentanyl in recreational drugs has been a major cause of Canada’s escalating opioid crisis. Now, thanks to a new technology developed by researchers at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, users will be able to quickly and effectively test their drugs for the presence of fentanyl. The portable mass spectrometer can test substances in less than 20 seconds and provide detailed results of the contents, potentially saving lives. The technology was developed by a multidisciplinary team of people with expertise in addiction, harm-reduction, chemistry and social epidemiology
App gives instant access to mental health care
Hoping to increase access to mental-health therapy and make it more affordable, social entrepreneurs from OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst incubator designed a digital platform called TranQool. The tool allows users to connect with licensed therapists from home through secure video chats, and access online resources such as cognitive behavioral therapy assignments, thought diaries, goal identification for therapy, and a daily emotional tracker. The tool was recently acquired by Employee Assistance Program provider HumanaCare, giving many more Canadians access to virtual health-care help.
Working together for a healthy Barrie
The University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health is partnering with the City of Barrie and public health institutions in the city to develop a holistic strategy to help the population live healthier lives. The collaboration, Healthy Barrie, is looking at factors in the city such as transportation, food and housing to help reduce chronic disease, improve mental health and encourage physical activity in residents’ everyday lives. In one initiative, Healthy Barrie is developing plans to tackle physical inactivity through neighborhood design, transit and educational programs in schools.
New community health solutions in Waterloo
The University of Waterloo partners with Grand River Hospital to develop new treatments and technologies to improve the health and well-being of the community. The collaboration has yielded promising developments across the health-care spectrum, including an innovative tool kit that deploys wearable devices to help professionals assess a patient’s balance. Poor balance and mobility is a challenge for the elderly and for survivors of strokes and other disorders, leading to health risks such as falls, decreased activity, and difficulty recovering from illness and injury. The tool kit is designed to be low-cost and simple to use even in remote and rural communities.
Getting at-risk children off the couch
Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) operates a community outreach program, the Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities, that aims to improve activity levels and the overall health of young people. With the help of Laurier students, the centre provides free or low-cost physical activity programming to high-priority children to prevent chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, that are associated with sedentary lifestyles, improving the lives of young people throughout the Waterloo Region.
Giving new life to seniors with dance
Researchers at Trent University have partnered with Canada’s National Ballet School to study the effectiveness of using dance to help improve quality of life in seniors with dementia. The Sharing Dance for Active Seniors program uses dance to address common health issues in the population such as the impact of social isolation and falls. Dance has been proven to help improve aerobic power, muscle strength, balance and mental health. A pilot class was held in the Peterborough area in 2017, with about 20 people aged between 60 and 90 demonstrating positive early results. In the current phase, Mark Skinner, director of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society, is employing graduate students to help analyze the data on the pilot project. The program will be tested in 20 communities across Canada, and could expand to more than 120 communities in the next five years.