The mission of the Imagination Centre is to provide access to leading-edge technologies to help individuals living with significant communication and movement challenges achieve greater independence and overall quality of life. The team works directly with patients and their families to discover how BCI technologies can best meet their goals.
The Imagination Centre is located inside the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital—the largest free-standing, comprehensive tertiary rehabilitation hospital in Canada. The program serves patients of all ages who require complex rehabilitation so that they can live life to the fullest.
Meet the Team
The Imagination Centre is a group of clinicians, engineers, researchers, trainees, students, and leaders who are passionate about bringing BCI technologies into the lives of patients. The clinical team is based out of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (GRH), and the research team is jointly based out of the GRH and the University of Alberta in the Faculties of Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine.
Medical Lead, Imagination Centre
Dr. Andersen is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and a Developmental Pediatrician at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (GRH) and Stollery Children's Hospital. Throughout his career, he has focused on the effects of brain injury early in life and on therapies and rehabilitation technologies aimed at adding independence and quality to life. John is passionate about advancing rehabilitation interventions, like BCI technologies, to benefit patient, family and provider outcomes and the mentorship of the next generation of innovative and highly-skilled clinicians and scientists. His patients and their families have inspired him to attract a community of experts, including patients, families, clinicians and scientists, to build the Imagination Centre. In 2018, the initial step was realized when Dr. Andersen co-founded the BCI program at the GRH. He serves as the Facility Chief of Child Health at the GRH and Section Chief of Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics, Alberta Health Services. In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his family, especially if it involves finding a new trail or river.
Dr. Kim Adams
Associate Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta
Dr. Adams received her BSc and MSc in Electrical Engineering, and after 20 years in clinical practice as a Rehabilitation Engineer, obtained her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Alberta. She is an associate professor in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.
The overall goal in her research program is to contribute to the cognitive and linguistic development of children with physical impairments. Research using assistive robots has facilitated children with disabilities' active participation in play and learning activities. In addition, we are investigating the experience of individuals who use communication devices and have developed and trialed a mentorship program in which more experienced communicators can support less experienced communicators. She has worked closely with I CAN Centre for Assistive Technology clinicians at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital on these initiatives.
Current directions include of development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to control assistive robotics and other play and learning activities. Most BCI research has been done with adults who have ALS or other acquired disorders, but there are interesting research challenges needed to improve the accuracy of BCI systems for children. For instance, when children use a robot as a tool to manipulate the environment, they have a limited number of control signals but need to control multiple functions the robot, especially if trying to perform free-unstructured play.
Dr. Lesley Pritchard
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta
Dr. Lesley Pritchard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. She is currently an Associate Editor for Pediatric Physical Therapy and the President of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (2022-2023). Lesley’s research interests are focused on evaluation of pediatric rehabilitation interventions and service delivery for children with cerebral palsy including processes to enhance child engagement in goal-setting, community participation and inclusion, and functional mobility. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to ensure the voices of children and families inform the design, delivery and evaluation of rehabilitation services and approaches.
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta
Dr. Hossein Rouhani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta, Research Affiliate at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and founder and director of the Neuromuscular Control & Biomechanical Laboratory. He received an MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran, a PhD degree in Biotechnology and Bioengineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and completed a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute. Dr. Rouhani’s fields of research are in-field health monitoring using innovative wearable technologies, rehabilitative and assistive technology development, and neuro-musculoskeletal biomechanics. Within his translational research program, Dr. Rouhani collaborates with university hospitals to implement his developed wearable technologies in clinical research.
Occupational Therapist, Clinical Lead
Corinne is an occupational therapist with 20+ years of experience working in assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) fields. She works in both the Imagination Centre and the I CAN Centre for Assistive Technology. She is passionate about occupational performance, expanding the role of occupational therapists in technology, and mentoring OTs to explore cutting edge technologies in their everyday practice. The goal of finding patients the right tools for the activities that they want to do in their lives drives her daily clinical practice. She dreams of one day making the perfect croissant and is always on the hunt for fabulous shoes.
Engineer, Technical Lead
Hosein joined the Imagination Centre team after completing his Master's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta in 2019. Hosein works on developing BCI applications and paradigms to facilitate clinical integration of BCI technology for our pediatric population. He enjoys working alongside our clinicians and families to provide better access methods for our patients. Hosein enjoys skiing, pencil drawing and playing video games in his free time.
Jonathan is an occupational therapist who has been working at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital since 2006. His experience is primarily in neuro rehabilitation, and he has a strong interest in the application of technologies in rehabilitation. Jonathan has been involved in a number of technology-themed projects at GRH, including touch-table development, Wii & Kinect based rehab, and driving simulation. He is excited to continue this exploration of technology for rehabilitation as part of the Imagination Centre team. Outside of work, his interests include spending time with his family, reading, and music production.
Bruce Helmbold has worked for over 20 years at the I CAN Centre for Assistive Technology located within the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. He is a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). In addition to his clinical work with children and adults who require AAC, Bruce has led workshops and seminars in the areas of assistive technology for communication, instructed clinicians, teachers and speech-pathology students, and presented at Assistive Technology conferences in North America.
Director of Pediatrics
Curtis is an Occupational Therapist by background and has served the needs of patients and their families in the Children’s Services, Mental Health and Pediatric Rehabilitation systems of care for over 30 years. He is passionate about the power of leadership in building high functioning teams to improve the access to and effectiveness of rehabilitation for pediatric patients and their families. Curtis is active on several foundation and clinical practice advisory boards in the Edmonton area. When not at the Glenrose Curtis enjoys spending time with his four boys at their activities or in the mountains.
Michelle is a pediatric physical therapist with 22+ years of front-line experience working with children with a variety of neuromotor conditions and has been in various leadership roles at the Glenrose over the course of her career. She is enthusiastic about implementing evidence-based practices, incorporating quality improvement work in clinical settings, and developing new programs. Michelle is passionate about enabling participation in meaningful life activities for patients, making this role as the BCI Program Coordinator her dream job. When not at work, Michelle enjoys sewing, camping, and spending time with her family.
Leah joined the Imagination Centre team after completing an MSc in Pediatrics at the University of Alberta in 2022. She has a background in neuroscience and has expertise coordinating research studies focused on pediatric rehabilitation and neurotechnology. Leah is passionate about building a research program which empowers patients as research partners. She also loves digging into the details of research projects and her superpower is organization. When not submitting ethics amendments, Leah can be found reading, baking, or searching for the city’s best chicken and waffles.
Engineering Student, University of Alberta
Elena is in her fifth and final year of her Computer Engineering degree with a specialization in software at the University of Alberta. She is working with the BCI team to develop a program that works with a BCI headset and allows the user to draw / make art. In her spare time, Elena enjoys watching movies and TV shows. She also enjoy taking her dog for walks and doing crafty things like watercolour painting and crochet.
Engineering Student, University of Alberta
Alex Liu is a software engineering student from University of Alberta, currently in his fifth year of the coop program. His project involves mapping BCI output to keyboard controls of the remote computer to develop a web-based platform for remote gameplay. As part of this project, Alex is also working on designing and creating the frontend user interface for the application. When not at work, Alex enjoys playing RTS games and watching NBA.
Engineering Student, University of Alberta
Matin is a graduate student in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta. She started to learn about BCI while doing her BSc in mechanical engineering. Connecting the engineering and the rehabilitation world has been a highlight for Matin while working with this team. She loves working with children and wants their voices to be heard. She is currently working on understanding the perspective of children with disabilities regarding BCI.
Engineering Student, University of Alberta
Steven is a Computer Engineering undergraduate student at the University of Alberta, who is currently completing his 5th and final year in the Software Co-Op program. Currently on his third work term, Steven is working with Dr. Kim Adams on the Think2Switch project; a hardware product with a software application aiming to provide BCI users with an easy, more modular experience using and controlling peripherals with BCI. As part of this project, Steven is working on implementing database storage capabilities into the desktop app, integrating automatic software updates, developing features and fixing bugs, as well as performing usability testing.
Undergraduate Student, University of Alberta
Carina Siu is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta, where she is completing an honors degree in Sociology with a focus on critical disability studies. She is currently working on her undergraduate thesis which focuses on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) and how it can support the play and development of children with disabilities. Drawing from the intersections between the social model of childhood disability and disabled children’s childhood studies, her thesis will explore the barriers and facilitators surrounding play for disabled childhoods by addressing two central research questions: 1) What are the lived experiences of play for children with disabilities? 2) What are the facilitators and barriers when using BCI to access play? When not engaging in research activities, she enjoys playing guitar and working on realistic ink illustrations.
Manar completed her undergraduate program in psychology at the University of Alberta, and is currently examining graduate student opportunities. She is a research assistant on a lab project to examine the barriers and facilitators for families of children who have physical impairments to access play. She has been part of our BCI team for several years and has completed course work that contributed to the resources for supporting the play and interviewing of children with disabilities. She has cerebral palsy and shares her experiences of childhood disability with the team and informs the team on development of new technologies and strategies. When not engaging in research activities, she enjoys being with her family.
Matheus completed his Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science in 2021. He studied hybrid-BCI and integrated the P300 and SSVEP paradigms. He is currently working in Brazil at a robotics company.
Isao successfully completed his doctorate in 2019. He did the first BCI study in the Assistive Technology lab at the University of Alberta. His thesis examined the integration of an eye gaze interface and BCI with biofeedback for human-robot interaction. Specifically, he examined the effectiveness of different biofeedback modalities for on-screen and off-screen eye gaze Interaction and for motor imagery-based BCI training. He is currently company director of DynaBrain in Tokyo, Japan. The company specializes in sales of electroencephalograph equipment and biosensors, and consulting on electroencephalogram measurement and analysis.