Holland Bloorview works to create a world where all children thrive and belong. They are the only children’s rehabilitation hospital in Canada focused on combining personalized care, transformational research and academic leadership in pediatric disability. Each year Holland Bloorview helps more than 8,500 kids and youth with disabilities and complex needs access client-centred care that focuses on their physical, mental and emotional well-being, and powers their amazing potential.
The scientists at the renowned Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) work with clinicians and staff, clients and families on discoveries that advance understanding of developmental diversity and transform the lives of kids with disabilities and their families – not just at Holland Bloorview, but everywhere.
Holland Bloorview strives to have the highest concentration of childhood disability research in the world, to enable more discoveries and help more families. In 2018 they launched a $32 million Grow Holland Bloorview Research campaign in order to provide space, talent and equipment needed to expand the BRI’s capacity to conduct research that changes lives.
Over the years Holland Bloorview has produced some very exciting work and the funds raised by Humour Me will help expand these developments:
The Autism Research Centre
Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, VP of Research and Director of the BRI, leads a team of scientists with expertise in neurology, developmental pediatrics, psychology, data science and speech and language pathology who work to understand autism’s biology and symptoms and create new, effective interventions. Their research has included identifying early bio-behavioural markers, testing medications, developing technologies to reduce kids’ anxiety, investigating whether family physicians can be trained to diagnose autism, and creating the Social ABCs program to improve verbal communication and strengthen relationships between caregivers and children.
The Brain Computer Interface (BCI)
Created by a team led by Dr. Tom Chau, the BCI is a revolutionary technology that allows people with severe disabilities to communicate and interact with their environment through their thought processes. Using non- invasive sensors, the BCI translates users’ brain activity into commands that allow them to move a wheelchair, activate a speech-generating device or even compose music. Researchers are testing the technology in the BCI clinic and exploring additional uses for the BCI, including brain stimulation therapy for kids with spinal cord injuries and finding an objective biomarker for autism. Being able to communicate is a human right, and Holland Bloorview is helping to give kids a new future of independence, communication, movement and computer interaction.
Botley’s Bootle Blast, developed by Dr. Elaine Biddiss at the BRI’s PEARL lab, is a mixed reality video game that motivates kids affected by cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury, spina bifida and other neuro-motor conditions to practise repetitive exercises that improve their motor skills. The game has been tested in Canada, the U.S., France, Costa Rica and Singapore and is now available at Holland Bloorview as well as in many other clinics.
The Imaging Bank
BRI scientists are using an MRI to scan the brains of kids in order to track the progression of neurological conditions and the effects of interventions over time. Analyzing this imaging data can lead to the creation of personalized treatments for kids with autism and other conditions. They can also use these scans to build an Imaging Bank of data that can be shared with scientists at other organizations and facilitate large-scale studies at Holland Bloorview and elsewhere, changing the future of disability research and care worldwide.