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Int J Rehabil Res. 2017 Dec;40(4):353-359. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0000000000000248.

Robot ZORA in rehabilitation and special education for children with severe physical disabilities: a pilot study.

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aDepartment of Health, Research Centre for Assistive Technology in Care, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Heerlen bCAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Health Services Research, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands cSchool of Health and Related Research, Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


The aim of this study was to explore the potential of ZORA robot-based interventions in rehabilitation and special education for children with severe physical disabilities. A two-centre explorative pilot study was carried out over a 2.5-month period involving children with severe physical disabilities with a developmental age ranging from 2 to 8 years. Children participated in six sessions with the ZORA robot in individual or in group sessions. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data on aspects of feasibility, usability, barriers and facilitators for the child as well as for the therapist and to obtain an indication of the effects on playfulness and the achievement of goals. In total, 17 children and seven professionals participated in the study. The results of this study show a positive contribution of ZORA in achieving therapy and educational goals. Moreover, sessions with ZORA were indicated as playful. Three main domains were indicated to be the most promising for the application of ZORA: movement skills, communication skills and cognitive skills. Furthermore, ZORA can contribute towards eliciting motivation, concentration, taking initiative and improving attention span of the children. On the basis of the results of the study, it can be concluded that ZORA has potential in therapy and education for children with severe physical disabilities. More research is needed to gain insight into how ZORA can be applied best in rehabilitation and special education.

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