Innovation Blvd’s NeuroTech lab opens with demos
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca
A host of new medical technologies—including those developed by Simon Fraser University researchers—were demonstrated as the NeuroTech Lab located at Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) was officially opened December 3rd.
- The lab is one of the cornerstones of Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard—a network of health institutions, universities, and health tech companies—located within one square mile in Surrey’s City Centre between SFU’s Surrey campus and SMH.
- The NeuroTech Lab embeds university research and development within the clinical environment of SMH to accelerate health care innovation and improve patient care. Partners in the lab include SFU, the City of Surrey, the SMH Foundation (SMHF) and Fraser Health.
- SFU professor and neuroscientist Ryan D’Arcy leads the NeuroTech Lab. Its goal is to integrate academia, industry and the medical sector in the development of leading-edge technology and products. “We can’t start producing these technologies soon enough,” he says. “This is critical work and the lab will play a major role in this process.”
- The lab provides a venue for SFU researchers to collaborate with technology experts and hospital clinicians, advancing research in the areas of brain injury, concussion measurement, surgical simulation, rehabilitative devices and spinal cord injury prevention.
- D’Arcy is co-chair of Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ Health Technology Working Group. He is also the SMHF BC Leadership Chair in Multimodal Technology for Healthcare Innovation, and a professor of computing science and engineering science at SFU.
Among technology featured during the NeuroTech Lab demos:
Brain vital sign monitoring
Representative: Ryan D’Arcy
Stage of development: Worldwide neurotechnology deployment with local patient-care impact for brain trauma survivors.
What it does: New tools to monitor brain functional status are developed in the critical care hospital environment, and then are designed for wide-scale use outside the hospital by coaches and athletic trainers. These portable devices could be used to measure potential brain trauma in amateur and professional athletes. Tools take advantage of brainwave technologies, like electroencephalography (EEG), to help measure the working brain and detect deviations from normal status in concussion, trauma, dementia and a host of other conditions.
VR Surgical Simulation Training
Representative: Aaron Hilton, CTO and Co-Founder, Conquer Mobile
Stage of development: initial proof of concept developed
What it does: The Virtual Reality (VR) medical simulation training is the first product created in the NeuroTech Lab and is designed for medical education. Those involved in the development of the VR Surgical Simulation Training include Conquer Mobile, clinicians and D’Arcy.
Interactive Wearable Robotic Device (Upper Body Movement Device)
Representative: Carlo Menon, Associate Prof., SFU School of Engineering Science
Stage of development: in development
What it does: A robotic exoskeleton that people wear to regain control of their upper extremities after suffering from a neuromuscular disorder. Designed to improve quality of life for those who have lost neurological control of their arms and hands, due to stroke, injury, aging or disease. In addition to providing assistance, the robotic device could also serve as a rehabilitative device—helping to “rewire” the brain in order to regain lost neuromuscular functions.
Surrogate Spinal Cord Injury System
Representative: Carolyn Sparrey, Assistant Professor, School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, SFU
Stage of development: prototype development
What it does: To better understand how the human body reacts to accidents, the surrogate spinal cord injury system mimics the spine to provide a realistic and cost-effective model for research and development. The system looks at different variables, such as how the angle and impact of forces can cause different severity of injuries on the spine. This is being used to improve the design of protective products, such as seatbelts and harnesses. The spinal cord injury system is also being used in developing and calibrating research injury systems to reduce the use of animals in research, and in laboratory testing of new spinal implants.
Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.
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