At Toronto Rehab, bright ideas are not enough. We want to turn our ideas into real-life products for people who need them – as soon as possible. So we’ve launched several start-up companies to commercialize our innovations.
iDAPT Somno was launched to commercialize a portable and cordless sleep apnea diagnostic device called ApneaDx™, developed at Toronto Rehab. The device offers a much easier and comfortable way to diagnose sleep apnea – a common yet underdiagnosed condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Currently, people must spend a night in a sleep lab to be tested for sleep apnea.
The newly-formed company iDAPT Somno is owned by Toronto Rehab-University Health Network and MaRS Innovation. Partners include the Ontario Centres of Excellence and Johnson & Johnson. There is also support from MaRS Innovation, MaRS Discovery and FedDev Ontario.
Here’s how the diagnostic device works: ApneaDx analyzes breathing sounds while a person sleeps at home. Recent results show remarkable accuracy. Currently being tested in the home, ApneaDx is expected to be available in late 2014, says Toronto Rehab researcher Dr. Hisham Alshaer who developed the product with Toronto Rehab senior scientists Drs. Douglas Bradley and Geoff Fernie.
The consequences of sleep apnea can be serious. Studies by Dr. Bradley and others show that people with the disorder are at increased risk of high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. Those with daytime sleepiness have a car crash rate that is three to four times greater than those who do not have sleep apnea. Their rate of industrial accidents is also higher.
Obstructive sleep apnea also plays a role in inhibiting recovery from stroke, according to research by Dr. Bradley.
This Toronto Rehab spin-off company is commercializing a stimulator device that can be used to reawaken paralyzed muscles. RECLAIM is a new class of functional electrical stimulation developed by Toronto Rehab senior scientist Dr. Milos R. Popovic and colleagues to help people paralyzed from stroke and spinal cord injury to regain the ability to reach, grasp and walk.
MyndTec was started by three scientists, including Dr. Popovic, who leads Toronto Rehab’s Neural Engineering and Therapeutics Team. In 2012, the company was awarded the TieQuest 2012, which attracted entries from over 225 entrepreneurs in Canada and the United States. MyndTec also won a TieQuest for Best Intellectual Property in 2012.
Based in Mississauga, MyndTec currently has three full-time employees. The company secured $2 million in funding in 2012 and is moving forward with product development.
Already tested in randomized controlled trials, the device will be available for initial testing in the third quarter of 2013. Dr. Popovic sees a huge market for RECLAIM. In North America alone, approximately 900,000 people have strokes every year. By reducing disability and increasing independence, stimulation therapy can help people to be more productive – and less reliant on costly attendant care, adds Dr. Popovic.
A bright idea born at Toronto Rehab sparked the creation of HandyMetrics Corporation, a medical software services and technology company that specializes in measurement and communications for health-related monitoring.
HandyMetrics was established in 2010 to advance sales of HandyAudit®, an electronic device developed at Toronto Rehab to provide objective, accurate and consistent hand hygiene measurements in heath care settings. Compared to the current paper-based observation system, HandyAudit saves time and reduces human error. Auditors use a handheld device to record actions of healthcare workers. Data is automatically analyzed and reports easily generated.
More than 100 hospital sites in Canada and abroad are now using HandyAudit, says Michael Tsang, Managing Director of HandyMetrics, which has seven staff members. Tsang invented the concept for HandyAudit with scientists Drs. Geoff Fernie and César Márquez Chin at Toronto Rehab.
“HandyAudit makes sense on all levels, from improving patient safety and quality of care to reducing costs associated with infection, transcription and analysis,” says Tsang.
The main focus of HandyMetrics is to help reduce the number of hospital acquired infections by developing technologies that produce higher quality hand hygiene data.
HandyMetrics, which is being incubated at Toronto Rehab, is steadily advancing sales of HandyAudit. The device is being used for auditing hand hygiene compliance, and also as a research tool.
In 2010, HandyAudit was selected by the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) for rapid implementation as part of the Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) program, which aims to move research evidence from the bench to the bedside to drive quality and improve patient care.
HandyAudit’s development was funded in part through a grant from the Mississauga Halton Infection Control Network and the Ontario Centres of Excellence with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, National Research Council of Canada – Industrial Research Assistance Program, MaRS, and VentureLab.
For more, see www.handyaudit.com.