Glenrose patients benefit from new homegrown technology

July 11, 2016

GRRIT positioning Western Canada at the forefront of health care innovation

EDMONTON – More than 100 Albertans with physical and cognitive impairments are now enjoying an improved quality of life thanks to access to leading-edge technology developed through the Glenrose Rehabilitation Research, Innovation and Technology (GRRIT) hub.

Formally established a year ago, GRRIT fosters interactions between Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinicians, physicians, patients and families, small- and medium-sized businesses, post-secondary institutions, donors and funding groups with the aim of advancing health innovation in Western Canada.

Through these collaborations, new technologies are developed, assessed and deployed.

“Our clinicians and patients are constantly looking for innovations to improve the rehabilitation journey,” says Dr. Gary Faulkner, director of GRH Rehabilitation Research Innovation & Technology & GRRIT. “Building strong partnerships with industry brings these innovations to life and gets them into the hands of the patients who need them. GRRIT facilitates these collaborations in a manner that provides benefits for the patients and families, and creates opportunities for our industrial and academic partners.”

GRRIT has already developed several successful assistive devices, including a touch table that improves fine motor skills, a glove that helps patients grip objects, and a set of adjustable stairs that helps patients gain the confidence, balance and ability to climb stairs.

Patient Eric Nielson is currently using another GRRIT-developed device called FEPS (Flex, Extension, Pronation, Supination). It offers targeted wrist and hand flexing and extending, and therapists can increase or decrease resistance to help patients gain strength.

“I’ve tried the first FEPS prototype and it works, but the newest prototype is more comfortable and has stronger measurement capabilities, so I can see my progression,” says Nielson. “It’s exciting to know that, as a patient, others are thinking of inventions and improvements to help me, as well as patients in other places.”

GRRIT was developed through funding from the federal Western Diversification Program ($420,000), the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation ($320,000), the Northern Alberta Benefits Society for Scoliosis ($120,000) and the Government of Alberta ($100,000).

“The Glenrose is unique through its highly specialized focus on rehabilitation.” says David King, Chair of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. “When you add GRRIT’s unique approach of using local grassroots innovation together with industry input to focus on patient needs, our unparallelled process really starts to shine.”

GRRIT accelerates opportunities that solve patient needs while leveraging clinicians and industry input early in the process.

“GRRIT is positioning Western Canada at the forefront of innovation. Today’s showcase is an important milestone for Alberta’s growing capacity for science and technology commercialization,” says the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism for the federal government. “By building on these strengths, we are creating jobs for the middle class, enhancing homegrown talent, and helping companies expand beyond our borders.”

GRRIT plays a role in product commercialization by testing and evaluating prototype products developed by small businesses in Western Canada. The concentration of rehabilitation expertise, specialized equipment, clinical setting and technical support provided at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital through GRRIT is not available elsewhere in Canada.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

- 30 -

For media inquiries, contact:

Shelly Willsey
AHS Communications
780 394-0905