Most of us don't see a lot of the work that goes into some of the life-changing solutions that are made available to those dealing with disabling injuries, illness or age-related health conditions. Whether it's a complete handrail system for your home or an automated fall detector powered by artificial intelligence, these solutions allow people to live active, healthier and more independent lives. Based in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is hard at work to improve adult rehabilitation and complex continuing care.

Take an elevator down to the Institute's basement and the doors open to a whole new realm of world-class, state of the art technologies. In their underground lab, lead researchers and senior scientist's Dr. Jennifer Campos and Dr. Andrea Furlan have been testing how environmental factors affect behavior, all with a view to reducing injury.

Driver Lab
Overhead view of the DriverLab

The DriverLab

The DriverLab is just one of four labs and it replicates real life challenges that drivers face on a regular basis. You can get behind the wheel of a real, full-sized, vehicle encapsulated in a domed simulator. From the driver's seat, a 360-degree high resolution projection surrounds the vehicle and replicates conditions such as driving in the rain and encountering the glare from headlights at night. 

The DriverLab is a crucial component in research to:

  • Better understand safe drug dosages and the effects of medication and medical conditions on driving performance
  • Identify safer driving support mechanisms in vehicles that will support independent aging and enable seniors to continue driving later in life and implement customized driver licensingResearch the implications of drowsy driving
  • Look at the impact of driverless (autonomous) cars
  • Establish best practices for driver testing and training
Courtesy of University Health Network

Opioids and driving

In 2015, approximately 2 million people in Ontario were prescribed opioids, which means an increased number of drivers on the road are taking these medications. Desjardins is working with the Toronto Rehabilitation Foundation and the DriverLab to investigate the effects of opioids on driving.

The study focuses on short-acting opioids, looking at the psychomotor and cognitive effects on driving performance. The goal is to assess the effects of prescription opioids on driving performance in less than ideal weather and traffic conditions to inform users, clinicians and policy makers about the effects of these drugs.

Courtesy of University Health Network

In November, Desjardins agents, Tracey Pether and Mike Chronopoulos, presented the Toronto Rehabilitation Foundation with $61,000 to fund the Effects of Opioids on Driving study. Results of the study are expected to be released at the end of 2019.

For more information on the DriverLab, visit here:

To see more information regarding drug-impaired driving, visit the:

For journalists only: Zac Stevenson