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A Rehabilitation Living Lab:
Creating Enabling Physical and Social Environments to Optimize
Social Inclusion and Social Participation for Persons with Physical Disabilities
In Quebec, approximately 17% of the population has a physical disability. Among persons over 65 years of age, this statistic dramatically increases to 42% in Québec, 48% of which live in Montreal. Persons with disabilities face daily challenges that often hinder their social participation or full accomplishment of ‘life habits’, which include daily activities such as feeding oneself and communicating to others as well as fulfilling social roles like running errands or meeting friends for coffee.
The urban shopping mall provides an ecologically valid example of a societal microcosm where complex transactions and activities involving persons with and without disabilities take place year-round. The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR) and its multidisciplinary and multisectorial strategic development project are in the process of transforming an urban shopping mall, Alexis Nihon in downtown Montreal, into an inclusive environment for persons of all ages, particularly for those with disabilities.
Researchers from CRIR’s three universities (Université de Montréal, McGill, UQAM), conducting their research in collaboration with clinicians within CRIR’s six rehabilitation member sites (Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre, Lucie-Bruneau Rehabilitation Centre, Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay, Institut Nazareth Louis-Braille et Institut Raymond-Dewar) and three partner sites (Le Bouclier, Centre de réadaptation Estrie and MAB Mackay), have joined forces with Cominar REIT, owner of Alexis Nihon, local community partners (AlterGo, Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors), local and provincial research networks (INTER, Adaptech), private enterprise (MOTEK Medical) as well as with regional, national (University of Saskatchewan, University of Sherbrooke) and international (University of Haifa, University of Siena, Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute) researchers to create this unique Rehabilitation Living Lab environment in Alexis Nihon.
The Rehabilitation Living Lab project is founded on CRIR’s research program, which encompasses our two research Axes as well as fosters the accomplishment of our three development priorities shown in the figure below.