B.C. engineers awarded $1 million TD grant toward equalizing access to health care in remote communities

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      (This story is sponsored by )

      If you glance at almost any public opinion poll measuring what Canadians are most concerned about, you’re sure to find health care at the top of the list. This perhaps comes as no surprise—access to quality medical treatment is a defining value and a source of national pride. And yet, many health-care services can be difficult to access in this country, especially for patients requiring specialized care and equipment.

      Prosthetics and orthotics are known to significantly improve quality of life for people who have lost limbs or live with conditions such as scoliosis. However, equipment and fittings can be costly, while funding among various government programs is .

      Using advanced technology, the Victoria Hand Project (VHP) is helping to break down barriers. Formed a few years ago, the University of Victoria team of biomedical engineers and students has been leveraging 3D scanning and printing technology to create prosthetics for upper-limb amputees in developing countries. Recently, they began trials with scoliosis braces for children in Nepal.

      Last year, the VHP competed in the , an annual initiative that awards organizations with impactful and measurable solutions to a problem statement. The 2019 challenge centred around better health and increasing equitable health outcomes for more people.

      The judges were impressed by the VHP's proposal to expand operations in North America. As a result, the team led by Professor Nick Dechev was awarded $1 million to catalyze their innovative solution.

      With financial support from TD, the VHP will begin to help children with scoliosis and upper-limb amputees, particularly in remote and under-served communities in Canada and the United States. Through partnerships with professional orthotists and prosthetists, sites will be established to provide 3D printed braces and prosthetics. Patients would be fitted by trained health-care providers who are local. The project will fit 200 amputees with upper-limb prosthetics and 160 children with scoliosis braces over the next three years.

      The team at TD in the Pacific region are thrilled that an innovative group from B.C. has won this grant to help make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of patients. The VHP's low-cost approach helps to equalize access to health-care solutions, thereby creating a more inclusive and sustainable future for everyone. That is something Canadians everywhere can be proud of.

      Written by Andy Cribb, senior vice president and Pacific region head of branch banking at TD

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