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Researchers Modify Toy Cars Into Special Rides For Children With Disabilities

This ride-on toy car helps children with motor impairments to be able to move around without the need for crutches or expensive power wheelchairs

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Children with disabilities need more love and care to be able to attend to their special needs. This is why researchers from Oregon State University have created 2 new modified ride-on toy cars for them. They aim to help the children explore, play, learn and develop their motor skills.

The sit-to-stand car is similar to the original Go-Baby-Go car. It has been modified to encourage the child to stand up and to activate the switch that makes the car move. It basically helps disabled children improve their motor skills of pulling up to stand, bear weight, and balance. All this while facilitating interaction with other children.

Throw-Baby-Throw is another modified ride-on car. It uses a pitching machine to throw foam balls. This ultimately helps disabled children with limited capabilities to use their upper extremities. This will enable them to engage in throwing activities, and also allowing socialization.

Source: UNF Spinnaker

“Both of these devices are designed to encourage movement and social interaction, which are critical developmental skills for all young children,” said Sam Logan, assistant professor of kinesiology from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU. “Movement and socialization are very often combined early and continually as children develop.”

More Affordable

The modified toy cars serve as a cheaper alternative to power wheelchairs for toddlers with mobility issues. Power wheelchairs are typically very expensive costing thousands of dollars. Children also can’t use power wheelchairs until they are a bit older. These modified toy cars however, cost only around $200.

These toy cars were specifically designed for disabled children who are expected to walk but have their ability to do so delayed due to complications. The study of this toy car has found that children with motor disabilities spend on average 10% more time socializing with others compared to when they’re on their forearm crutches.

“That’s exactly what you want to see,” said Logan. “This car gets you up and gets you moving. It’s also a way to introduce some fun around the practice of these skills that will help a child stand and walk on their own.”

Source: Oregon State University

The same prospect goes to the modified throw car. “With the switch, kids with upper-extremity limits can throw the same as other kids,” said Logan. “The design is really about facilitating this interaction with other kids. You also need someone to catch, retrieve or dodge the balls being thrown.”

The Future

While these modified toys are definitely a noble invention, the engineering behind it is more complex than it seems. However, the team is willing to put their time and effort into making the final product. This includes testing it out to make sure children with disabilities share equal opportunities to play, interact, and engage with others at a young age.

“We encourage families, clinicians and teachers to embrace a ‘right device, right time, right place’ approach that takes into account each child’s specific needs and abilities,” he said. “Whatever typically-developing kids do should be the gold standard for all children, including those with disabilities.”

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