Holland Bloorivew and the VMI

Posted by Adrian Anantawan on Wednesday, July 13, 2011
As Canada’s leading children’s rehabilitation hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital provides the best comprehensive care for children born with disabilities and those recovering from accidents or injuries. Located in a state-of-the-art facility in Toronto, Bloorview sees approximately 7,000 children each year, with conditions that include brain and spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and genetic disorders.

 Holland Bloorview takes a holistic approach to disability care, going beyond medicine and rehab therapies to offer a vast array of programs and services, including music, arts and recreation programs through its Centre for the Arts.
Music in Holland Bloorview’s Centre for the Arts

 Holland Bloorview’s Centre for the Arts is committed to exploring the potential of creative arts and music to benefit children with disabilities. The Centre’s musicians and music therapists, working in concert with software researchers, psychologists, teachers and other therapists have developed a host of music programs that promote healing, creativity, exploration and education.

 Holland Bloorview’s music programs focus on providing access to music through the use of technology to children who may not have the fine motor skills needed to play instruments. With the help of innovative technology developed by Bloorview researchers, children who may be experiencing the loss of music in their lives due to accident or injury are able to recover the ability and joy of making music.

The Holland Bloorview Virtual Music Instrument (VMI)

 Dr. Tom Chau, a renowned biomedical engineer and pioneer in the development of assistive technologies at the Holland Bloorview Research Institute, led the development of Holland Bloorview’s Virtual Music Instrument – the first in the world. Originally developed to encourage social interaction and physical movement, the VMI also allows children with special needs to express and develop their musical creativity. With the use of a web cam and special software, this innovative technology translates physical gestures and movements into musical notes.

 As an intelligent system, the VMI acts as an extension of a child’s body and as a musical instrument. Dr. Chau’s software, which works on personal computers, instructs the VMI to adapt to the child’s abilities and physical commands.

The VMI Initiative

The VMI Initiative is an ongoing project, founded in 2009 through a grant from Yale University. The project is now in collaboration with Vigour Projects, an organization aimed at using research as a tool for social advocacy. In 2011, the VMI Initiative received a generous grant from the Holland Bloorview Foundation in Toronto, Canada.

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