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Physiotherapy. 2012 Sep;98(3):230-7. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

Development of robotic mobility for infants: rationale and outcomes.

Author information

  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA. hlarin@ithaca.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the feasibility of a robotic mobility device for infants using alternative control interfaces aimed at promoting early self-initiated mobility, and to assess the effects of a training protocol and robot experience.

DESIGN:

Observational and pre-post quantitative case studies.

SETTING:

Standardised, research laboratory and day-care centres with toys and individuals familiar to infants.

PARTICIPANTS:

Children with and without disabilities, aged 5 months to 3 years.

INTERVENTIONS:

In each study, infants were seated over a Pioneer™ 3-DX mobile robot. Some infants controlled the directional movement of the robot by weight shifting their body on a Nintendo® Wii™ Balance Board (the WeeBot), while others used a modified joystick. Infants participated in five sessions over 2 to 5 weeks. Sessions consisted of administering a 10-minute training protocol preceded and followed by 2 to 3 minutes of free play. One child with motor impairment used a button switch array and a different experimental design.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

From the videotaped free-play periods, goal-directed behaviours were coded and time in motion was measured. In the training period, a scoring system was developed to measure the infants' driving performance.

RESULTS:

Preliminary outcomes indicate that infants without disabilities, aged 5 to 10 months, demonstrated significant improvement in driving performance and goal-directed movement using the WeeBot. Infants who used the joystick were less successful on all measures. Results for infants with disabilities using the WeeBot were mixed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mobile robots offer promise to enhance the development of early self-mobility. Novel types of interfaces, such as the WeeBot, warrant further investigation.

Copyright © 2012 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22898580
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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