Pediatric, bio-driven, mobile-assistive devices and their effectiveness in purposeful driving for typically-and atypically-developing toddlers

Schoepflin, Zachary
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University of Delaware
Self-generated mobility is a major contributor to the physical, emotional, cognitive, psychological, and social growth and development of infants and toddlers. When young children have disorders that hinder self locomotion, their cognitive and psychological development is at risk for delay. The use of a traditional mobile-assistive device by atypically-developing infants and toddlers has shown promising results in preventing this delay, but does little to encourage the child’s development of gross motor skills. The aim of this research was to develop a bio-driven mobile-assistive device—one that is controlled and driven by moving the feet in a mimicked walking gait—in order to reinforce the development of gross motor skills. Five typically-developing subjects and one atypically-developing subject with spastic cerebral palsy were placed in the bio-driven device and instructed to navigate through a simple maze. All subjects were able to successfully complete the maze for numerous trials. Additionally, most subjects showed evidence of improved driving skill by colliding with barriers less frequently and completing the maze in shorter times in successive trials on a given testing day. The results suggest that such a device is feasible for purposeful driving. Recommendations are given for device and protocol redesign for related future testing.