Babies & Robots: Infant power mobility on display

Feb 04, 2009
Andrew's power chair allows him to explore the world, aiding his cognitive development.

Children with mobility issues, like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, can't explore the world like other babies, because they can't crawl or walk. Infant development emerges from the thousands of daily discoveries experienced by babies as they move and explore their worlds.

Mobility-deprived kids start exploring when they can operate a traditional power wheelchair, typically at age 3 or often older.

Research done by University of Delaware researchers is turning that on its head and could potentially change the way these children's brains develop.

Physical therapy professor Cole Galloway and mechanical engineering professor Sunil Agrawal have developed tiny power chairs babies as young as 6 months can operate using a joystick.

Now, they've paired with Permobil, a national producer of power chairs, and outfitted a chair for toddlers.

Galloway will be showcasing this research next week in Las Vegas at the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting. (Tuesday, February 10, 10am-3pm)

A 17-month-old boy, Andrew, who's been driving the robots for more than a year, will be on hand to demonstrate the technology. On an average day, Andrew uses his chair to navigate his home and the outside world. He is ready to attend pre-K next year, impressive progress for a child with spina bifida.

Galloway believes providing mobility to children who wouldn't have it otherwise could impact their lives in countless ways, especially when you consider the rapid brain development during infancy.

"Babies literally build their own brains through their exploration and learning in the complex world," he says. "Their actions, feelings and thinking all shape their own brain's development.

"Mobility is linked to widespread advances in cognitive development and learning abilities in typically developing infants."

The University of Delaware has filed patents and is working to bring to market a robot-enhanced mini wheelchair for children aged 6 months-2 years.

For more information, check out:

www.udel.edu/research/media/babiesrobots.html
www.udel.edu/udaily/2009/oct/robots100708.html
www.udel.edu/PT/About Us/People/galloway.html

Source: University of Delaware

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Light field microscopy for whole brain activity maps

Jan 29, 2014

(Phys.org) —Advances in light-sheet microscopy have led to impressive images and videos of the brain in action. With this technique, a plane of light is scanned through the sample to excite fluorescent ...

Book says 'Big Data' becoming a global nervous system

Dec 06, 2012

When Rick Smolan attended a parent-teacher meeting at his kids' New York City school recently, a spirited discussion broke out about why students were being allowed to text and post on social sites during school hours.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...