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May update

It’s officially summer time at the Rehab Robotics Lab! Things seem much busier compared to COVID times, and we’ve been enjoying a livelier lab. With more hands on deck, we have a lot of projects running that we’re excited to share with you all. Additionally, the weather here in Edmonton has finally switched to sunny days and clear skies! The sunshine has definitely boosted our moods and motivation to get up and going. There’s been lots going on this month, so let’s jump right in.

Starting off with a bang, we won a grant!!! We are extremely grateful that our hard work paid off and we can use this grant to improve the lives of others. We are recipients of the AGEWELL AIR grant, which we will be using to look further into falls risks in senior's homes. Our main objective is to further validate the virtual falls risk assessment protocol that we developed last year. Our study will look at falling risk in 75 participants from community and supported living environments. We will complete a second assessment on the seniors living in supported living to see if exercise intervention improves their falling risk. To help us out on this project, Dr. Loyola-Sanchez will be joining us. He is a physiatrist at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital who has worked with us before, and we are glad to collaborate with him again!

Double Robot, AKA Robbie

We will be recruiting participants from The Evergreens Foundation for this study. By assessing their current fall risk and potential barriers, we strive to take on a preventative approach for treatment. This will allow us to mitigate injuries as much as possible, and build up strength so that patients feel more secure when ambulating. In healthcare, especially with

more vulnerable populations, it is vital to take on a preventative approach as injuries after falling can be extremely debilitating. We love working with the patients at Evergreens knowing that the progress we make together will result in more independent and confident individuals.

We have also been seeing other patients at The Evergreens Foundation for general aches and pains, giving them access to physio services that may otherwise be difficult to come by. The residents are a big fan of our Double Robot, which they have nicknamed Robbie!

As always, our work with Alberta Health Services (AHS) is progressing well as they onboard more rural communities. With more communities, Tele-Rehab 2.0 is able to expand our services to a greater set of people. This is always exciting as we get to share our knowledge and resources to help communities who might otherwise not be able to receive proper care. We look forward to meeting all our new patients and beginning to work with them to reach their health goals.

Our other project with AHS is taking on the challenge of managing long-COVID symptoms. Many Albertans struggle with long-COVID symptoms such as breathlessness, cough, or chest pain. Our goal with the long-COVID project is to help alleviate some of these symptoms by providing virtual access to pulmonary healthcare. We have been able to connect with Sensoria, a company from Washington, to develop a respiration belt and a virtual stethoscope. This has been an excellent partnership and will be extremely helpful in progressing our work to delivering treatment to long-COVID patients. Some of our rural patients have been awaiting the health module which we hope to have up and running as quickly as possible.

Although it seems as if COVIDis over, it is important that we stay diligent to protect others by staying home when feeling unwell. In the lab, we’ve been able to use our Temi robot in the past weeks as some of our lab members stayed home due to illness or injuries. The value of our robot is showcased in scenarios like these which is extremely rewarding to us as a group. Despite the fact that some members of our team had to stay home, they were able to stay connected thanks to the robot.

As mentioned earlier, it is summer time in the lab which means we have welcomed a bunch of new summer students! We appreciate all the students that could come out and help us this summer while they gain some hands-on experience in this field. On top of that, we get to hear all the innovative ideas that our students have to improve our projects. Now that you've read this blog, go out and enjoy some of that rejuvenating Alberta sunshine!

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