Impact of Giving

UNB opens new facility, advances leadership in prosthetics and rehabilitation research

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Nov 18, 2021

Category: Donor Stories , News and Events

The University of New Brunswick has officially opened a new research facility that builds on six decades of specialized research leadership in its Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME).

Thanks to the financial support from private, provincial and federal funders, the Centre for Adaptive Rehabilitation Engineering (CARE) enables specialized neurological rehabilitation in a research space furnished with advanced equipment.

“Our new facility provides an amazing range of technologies that represent state-of-the-art capabilities for rehabilitation research and is unique in Canada in combining these technologies under a single roof,” said Dr. Jon Sensinger, director of IBME and professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNB. “The technology is incredibly adaptable and powerful, and in combination with our artificial intelligence and advanced computing capacities, we will be able to enable faster and better rehabilitation and healthy aging plans for patients, provide new evidence and insight through research, and support our clinical and industry partners.”

The CARE facility includes several specialized laboratories. CAREN, a Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment, features a dynamic environment that includes a highly responsive platform and treadmill platform surrounded by a wrap-around, immersive virtual reality screen. The instrumented treadmill platform tilts and shifts in response to user motions and simulated landscapes. The mobility lab features a ZeroG body-support track and weight harness that can dynamically reduce a user’s weight, enabling people with mobility issues to get up and walk safely. The Activities of Daily Living lab provides a full living space equipped with pressure-sensing flooring, motion-capture and eye tracking systems. Combined with a suite of peripheral technology including brain sensors, researchers can assess how people behave while completing real-world tasks.

Housed in the newly built Pickett Wing expansion of the IBME building, CARE was made possible thanks to a visionary donation of $400,000 by Bob and Barbara Pickett. Their donation enabled UNB to secure $2.27 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and $2.28 million from the Province of New Brunswick’s Regional Development Corporation. The project was further supported by funding for the operation of the facility from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, which contributed $105,000, and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, which contributed $50,000.

“UNB’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering exemplifies some of the best qualities of university research: a progressive confluence of knowledge, innovation and leadership over decades, addressing complex and important challenges faced in our lives, all the while teaching and training the next generation of experts,” said Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, president and vice-chancellor of UNB. “That work is made possible in large part due to our private and public funders, whom I thank for their generosity and vision.”

Research activity is already underway in the new centre, and the team is eager to increase this activity through partnerships with other research institutions and with new industry and community partners. Those interested can learn more about the CARE facility.

Additional quotes

“Rehabilitation is something that means a great deal to both of us, and Barbara and I are pleased to have supported the creation of this world-class research facility here in New Brunswick.” - Bob Pickett

“By supporting this particularly innovative project at the University of New Brunswick, the Canada Foundation for Innovation is pleased to encourage important scientific research activities that make a real difference in the well-being of all Canadians. The Centre for Adaptive Rehabilitation Engineering is an example of world-class technology and we look forward to seeing the research results and their applications with public and private sector partners.” - Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation

“The Institute of Biomedical Engineering has been conducting world-class research for decades now and today’s opening demonstrates how it is continuing to innovate and grow. The Province of New Brunswick is pleased to have been a partner in the construction and support of this facility through the provincial Innovation Fund. The completion of this project places IBME in an even stronger position to lead Canada and beyond in the development of adaptive rehabilitation tools and technologies that will ultimately improve the quality of life in people living and aging with chronic neurological disorders.” - The Hon. Gary Crossman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation

“NBIF has been supporting the impactful applied research happening at UNB’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering since our inception. We were an early partner in realizing the latest vision of the Institute, the CARE facility, contributing $105,000 in early 2020. Our funding is being used to support a critical research therapist position that directly supports the dissemination of knowledge at the facility and enables applied, hands-on research with patients and clinicians. We’re excited to be involved, and we are already seeing how this funding is being used to improve health outcomes and generate valuable new commercial findings.” - Dr. Laura Richard, Director of Research, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

“NBHRF is proud to support the IBME Centre for Adaptive Rehabilitation Engineering and its associated research program in Adaptive Rehabilitation Engineering Strategies. This program will develop and deploy tools and technologies to improve the quality of life for people living and aging with chronic neurological conditions. This is a very relevant issue in New Brunswick, which has the fastest growing population over the age of 65 in the country.” - Leah Carr, acting co-CEO and Director of Research Programs and Human Development, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

Photo: From left: Dr. Chris McGibbon, professor of kinesiology and scientific principal investigator (CARE), UNB; the Honourable Gary Crossman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation; Leah Carr, acting co-CEO and Director of Research Programs and Human Development, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation; Barbara Pickett; Bob Pickett; Dr. Laura Richard, director of research, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation; Dr. David MaGee, vice-president (research) UNB; Dr. Erik Scheme, associate director of the IBME and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Credit: Cameron Fitch/UNB.