Joint research program in Winnipeg aims to use technology to improve lives – Winnipeg | Globalnews.ca

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The vice-dean of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of health sciences is taking on a new role.

Jacquie Ripat was appointed as the endowed chair of Technology for Assisted Living, a research program created through joint funding by the university and the Health Sciences Centre Foundation. It’s described as a field of research that aims to improve the quality of life for people in all stages of life, using computer technology, artificial intelligence and other digital tools.

A joint press release issued on Monday highlights the benefits of such research, including:

  • Using technology to enable people to live independent and connected to the health resources they need.
  • Creating accessible, effective and personalized health care.
  • Providing more people with health care even if they are far from the Health Sciences Centre.

A total of $3 million was raised to establish the program. Ripat was appointed as chair at a media event on Monday.

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“Manitobans need access to technology that can support their ability to live in their homes and communities, to stay healthy and participate and feel a sense of well-being. This (program) provides some of the support that allows them to do just that,” Ripat said. “I’m looking forward to interdisciplinary collaborations and leveraging new assistive technologies to promote autonomy, participation and inclusion for people in need.”

Ripat will take on the five-year term as program chair, based on the College of Rehabilitation Sciences in the university’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. She is also an associate professor in the department of occupational therapy and the vice-dean of academic affairs at the health sciences faculty.

Funding support will provide learners and researchers with the College of Rehabilitation Sciences access to three facilities: a high-tech apartment, outdoor greenspaces and whitespaces, and a mixed-reality lab.

“We can help (people) with communication. We can help them with mobility, ensuring that they are able to get around. We can ensure that they have access to support services that they might need,” Ripat said. “We can make sure that they are living safely and controlling things in their environment — to be able to access doors or other supports that they might need.”

Ripat’s role will include a number of tasks, including testing and advancing new technologies, overseeing the assessment and training centre, and launching collaborative research projects.

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