Towards a learning healthcare system through collaboration

There is no question that the looming grey tsunami of the ageing population in Ontario has significant implications with regards to healthcare services. A key concept which is emerging is the opportunity to foster and maintain brain health across the lifespan where optimal performance and quality is sustained. While much focus has been on the attempts to intervene once brain disease has taken hold, progress has been slow.

Clearly, new thinking and leveraging new opportunities will be necessary given the implications of an ageing at-risk population. The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is leading the charge to engage a learning healthcare system by bringing research to the community and fostering best practices in data science. The emerging research in data science and using so-called ‘real-world data’ in effect pushes the boundaries of research from the high-end hospital-based system of formal clinical trials, towards a process of continuous quality improvement in the community, where research becomes normal activity fostering learning and refining best-in-class care.

In effect, we are striving to make the community the laboratory and the healthcare system itself, the engine of innovation and optimization. The pieces of this learning healthcare system are in place and while the integration of the various pieces is complex, data-driven approaches are where new knowledge will be discovered, deployed and assessed in service of maintained health spans. As we transition towards applying an integrated approach to keeping our brains healthy, we are implementing better ways to communicate our work. The renewed edition of our Brainnovations newsletter helps visualize our projects and achievements in connection to relevant outputs that move us closer to our goal.

By bringing together partners in neuroscience, healthcare, data science and industry, OBI is accelerating the pathway towards improved brain health and enhancing the health spans of people living in Ontario. The work we do and the steps we take forward are strengthening a foundation where we can equip ourselves in preparation for the large wave of healthcare challenges to come.

Sharing Caregiving Strategies to Address Risky Behaviour Changes in Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is a long and challenging journey. Over the course of this disorder memory, cognitive function and other abilities deteriorate. Behaviour can also change over time in ways that are completely out of character for that person. For instance, the person with dementia may display aggressive behavior or get angry and act out. This can be very difficult as a caregiver and can lead to many questions. Is this typical? Is there something I can do to change this potentially risky behaviour? Getting these answers to caregivers is important for improving both care and safety in the home.

Continue reading “Sharing Caregiving Strategies to Address Risky Behaviour Changes in Dementia”

A Holistic Way to Think About Our Health and Reframe Disability

No one likes to be defined by an illness, disorder or disability – even when we are a patient. Our ‘health’ is not only based on our biology, but also by our relationships with friends and family and our ability to do the things we enjoy. Researchers Drs. Peter Rosenbaum and Jan-Willem Gorter from our cerebral palsy research program (CP-NET) wrote a concept paper[1] explaining how holistic thinking towards health can create a better framework to approach childhood disability. This framework helps to identify the ability and potential in persons with disabilities like cerebral palsy so people can work with them the same way we should with anyone else.

Continue reading “A Holistic Way to Think About Our Health and Reframe Disability”

Message from the President and Scientific Director

Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), reviews the accomplishments and innovations of OBI over the past 5 years, and how this lays the foundation for even greater impacts in brain research, commercialization and care in our next phase.

Connecting Research Back to the Community

Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) believes connecting its research programs with patients and their advocates is critical to having relevant and high impact programs.

OBI has worked with each of its Integrated Discovery Programs (ID) to form five separate Patient Advisory Committees (PACs) that consist of advisors from various neurological health charities (e.g., Alzheimer Society of Ontario or Autism Ontario), researchers, caregivers, and patients. The purpose of these committees is to bring the patient voice to our ID Programs, promote knowledge exchange between patients, advocates, caregivers and researchers, discuss key issues for patients, and connect the research back to their communities faster. Continue reading “Connecting Research Back to the Community”

Brain-CODE – An Engine for Collaboration

The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI)  builds collaborations between Ontario neuroscientists so that they can combine their diverse expertise and resources to better understand brain disorders and translate these discoveries into new tools and treatments. Continue reading “Brain-CODE – An Engine for Collaboration”

Brain-CODE Offers First Open Data Access

Ontario has one of the highest concentrations of brain researchers anywhere in the world. But researchers in this community largely worked in isolation and tended not to share ideas or data. The Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI’s) Integrated Discovery Programs changed this and brought large groups of researchers together to better understand and treat brain disorders. This collaborative approach led to the idea of standardizing data and housing it in a shared space where it is curated, analyzed and shared. This ensures that the data are collected in the same manner, making it easier to share and accelerate discovery. Continue reading “Brain-CODE Offers First Open Data Access”