Supporting world-class research

Graphic of new High-Speed Skeletal Imaging Lab
Graphic of new High-Speed Skeletal Imaging Lab

One of the few facilities in the world capable of directly measuring the human skeleton in motion is coming to Hotel Dieu Hospital, a highly sophisticated research lab geared to developing clinical interventions that account for a patient’s individual anatomy, mechanics and activities.

In late 2015, construction of a world-class High-Speed Skeletal Imaging (HSSI) Laboratory received the support of the South East Local Health Integration Network and the approval of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to proceed to the working drawings stage. The lab is expected to be built and operational in 2016.

With funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund and an NSERC Research Tools and Instruments grant, the new lab will be led researcher Dr. Michael Rainbow, a researcher in of the Queen's Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and faculty member of the Human Mobility Research Centre (HMRC), a partnership between Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital.

The 1500-square-foot lab will augment two adjacent Queen’s labs at Hotel Dieu—the Human Mobility Research Laboratory and the Neuroscience Clinical Testing Laboratory.

Dr. Rainbow says being able to measure the motion of virtually any joint in the body—for example, the motion of the knee while a person is running—opens the door to developing treatments and preventative strategies that could ultimately improve quality of life across a spectrum of patients, from the athlete plagued by overuse injuries to seniors coping with osteoarthritis.

“By using very sophisticated imaging and modelling techniques we can collect data about joint mechanics that could, for example, allow orthopedic surgeons to determine ahead of time if a patient would respond better to rehabilitation or surgery,” he says. 

“The goal is to develop interventions that account for each patient’s particular anatomy, mechanics and activities.”

The new lab will feature force plates to measure ground reaction forces and an optical motion capture system to visualize the body in motion.  It will be a wonderful example of multiple disciplines—including mechanical and materials engineering, surgery, orthopedics—collaborating to reduce the debilitating effects of musculoskeletal injuries.

“This research will advance our knowledge about determining injury thresholds,” says Dr. Rainbow, “which will then help clinicians to create corrective and preventative interventions tailored to the individual.  Our vision is to facilitate healthy aging and independence by helping to ensure that people maintain their mobility as they grow older.”