Rolling Without Limits

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Car Mods Get Children with Disabilities Moving and Throwing
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Car Mods Get Children with Disabilities Moving and Throwing

A team of researchers at Oregon State University have announced two more additions to a number of toy car designs created by the Go Baby Go program – a countrywide, community-oriented outreach, design and research project that was started by Cole Galloway in 2012 at the University of Delaware. One mover, powered by a battery, helps late bloomers to arise and take control and the other one lets kids participate in the throwing game.

Whereas older kids with disabilities can move around using powered wheelchairs, choices for children below two years old are limited. This is where the Go Baby Go program comes into the equation, adapting ready-made battery-operated toy cars for use by children without having to cough up thousands of dollars to purchase a powered wheelchair. As a matter of fact, the modified toy cars can generally be produced for about US$200.

The newest additions rely on earlier designs to help promote independent exploration and play, and to get young kids with disabilities to interact and move with others.

The sit-to-stand car has been revamped based on the original design of the Go Baby Go car, and was created for young children who are yet to master bipedal movement, but there are expectations that they will walk independently with time.

To enable drivers stand on their feet, support weight and attain balance, the researchers shifted the switch that facilitates movement from the car’s ATV-style steering handlebars/wheel to the seat. The default(seated) mode is turned off, which means the users must stand in order to turn on the drive system.

Sam Logan, the leader of the Go Baby Go program in Oregon State noted that the car made you get up and start moving, and it was also a method of introducing fun in the practice of the skills that will assist the children to stand and walk independently.

The research team discovered that the car’s users spent about 10% more time interacting with their colleagues at school compared to when they used crutches to move around.

The Throw Baby Throw car is equipped with a switch-activated, battery-operated pitching machine built by Fisher Price to shoot foam balls into the air and it has been modified to start when a bulky momentary switch is pressed. In order to vary the launching speed, a potentiometer was also incorporated. It was designed to assist children with limited movement on the upper limb to participate in throwing games and other activities.

Logan explained that using the switch, children with upper-extremity limits can throw just like other children. He added that the design is basically meant to facilitate this interaction with other children, and someone is needed to retrieve, dodge or catch the balls that are being thrown.

This mobility aid has not been studied comprehensively and only one car is presently in the wild(Portland). The car will probably need to be refined further before it is introduced into the Go Baby Go network.

The two toy car mods are included in a technical report that was published in the Frontiers in Robotics and AI journal not long ago. The sit-to-stand car was the focus of a study that was published in the Pediatric Physical Therapy journal.

Attached below is a video that provides an outline of the Go Baby Go program and the creation of the two new additions.   


More about news, disabilites, 2017

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