Tom Chau

Tom Chau PhD, PEng
Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering
Contact Info
T: (416) 425-6220 3515
Bloorview Research Institute - Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
150 Kilgour Road
Toronto, ON, M4G 1R8
Contact Faculty Member for more information
Research Interests
Movement Science, Rehabilitation Technology Sciences

Tom Chau, PhD, PEng, is Vice President of Research, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Director of the Bloorview Research Institute, and a full Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. 

As a member of the senior team Tom's accountabilities include: research institute strategy development and implementation; building collaborative research capacity hospital-wide; fundraising with the foundation for the support of strategic priorities; cultivating internal and external research and commercialization partnerships; fostering client and family engagement in research; overseeing research institute administration and infrastructure. 

Tom leads the PRISM Lab in the Bloorview Research Institute, where his recent research has focused on the investigation of novel access pathways for children and youth with severe physical impairments. He has published over 190 refereed scientific articles and holds 5 patents. His lab has developed numerous innovations aimed at maximizing possibilities for children. His research has been featured over 150 times in national and international media including CNN, Time Magazine, ITN (UK), Discovery Channel, and Report on Business. 

Tom holds a doctorate from the University of Waterloo in the area of pattern analysis and machine intelligence and received post-doctoral training in pediatric rehabilitation engineering as a Duncan Gordon Fellow. From 2004-2014, he held a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Rehabilitation Engineering and is currently the Raymond Chang Foundation Chair in Access Innovations..

Tom’s contributions to pediatric rehabilitation have been recognized with accolades such as a the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Dr. Jonas Salk Award (2016), Meritorious Service Cross (2017), Order of Ontario (2018) and the Governor General’s Innovation Award (2018).


Research Synopsis

Dr. Chau has introduced several new access pathways including, but not limited to those that exploit mechanomyography (muscle vibrations), vocal fold vibrations, brain oxygenation, brain blood flow velocities, and orofacial gestures (e.g., opening/closing the mouth, protruding the tongue).

His access research has grown to include the development of an in-school access and communication training protocol, which engages the student, teachers, educational assistants and parents. Currently, his team is developing analytical techniques for several access pathways based on brain activity. They have also conducted research to better understand the subtle timing patterns of repetitive movements such as walking and circle drawing. This knowledge may suggest new ways to measure motor improvement and the impact of interventions.

Dr. Chau and his team have also published a number of papers relating to the forces associated with handwriting. That research is useful in informing occupational therapy intervention for handwriting difficulties. On the virtual reality front, our lab has been involved in the development and clinical testing of various augmented environments, including, the virtual music instrument, a wearable pedestrian and wheelchair indoor localization system, and most recently, a Kinect-based art program. These environments offer new media for intervention.

Finally, Dr. Chau and his team have devoted many years of research towards the development of a new medical device relating to swallowing disorders.

Publications and Awards

View PubMed search of this faculty member's recent publications.

Recent Publications

  1. Proulx, N., Samadani, A., Chau, T. (2018). Online classification of the near-infrared spectroscopy fast optical signal for brain-computer interfaces. Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express, 4:065010 (13pp).
  2. Glowinsky, S., Samadani, A., Chau, T.(2018). Limited value of temporo-parietal hemodynamic signals in an optical-electrical auditory brain-computer interface. Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express, 4(4):045035 (13 pp).
  3. Schudlo, L., Chau, T. (2018). Development and online testing of a near-infrared spectroscopy brain-computer interface tailored to an individual with severe congenital motor impairments. Disability & Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. 13(6):581-591.
  4. Proulx, N., Samadani, A., Chau, T. (2018). Quantifying fast optical signal and event-related potential relationships during a visual oddball task. NeuroImage, 178:119-128.
  5. Emami, Z., & Chau, T. (2018). Investigating the effects of visual distractors on the performance of a motor imagery brain-computer interface. Clinical Neurophysiology, 129(6):1268-1275.