Nav: Home

Broad support needed to maximize impact of cars designed for kids with mobility issues

January 13, 2020

CORVALLIS, Ore. - For the first month and a half after receiving a modified toy car designed for children with disabilities, the kids and their families seemed motivated to use driving as a means of exploration and socialization.

But in the month and a half after that, most kids' driving time fell off to almost nothing.

Sam Logan, an Oregon State University kinesiologist who conducts research using the cars in his lab, said families who use the "Go Baby Go" ride-on cars require more robust support to push past barriers and keep using the cars over time. Otherwise, instead of helping young children with mobility issues explore their world, the cars end up forgotten in a closet.

OSU is one of several Go Baby Go chapters around the country working with children ages 3 and younger who experience limited mobility. OSU students take the off-the-shelf cars that kids can ride in and modify them with large easy-to-press activation buttons and PVC pipe frames to keep children sitting safely upright inside the car.

In previous studies, researchers made frequent home visits and were able to troubleshoot any problems families faced in using the cars. Logan said their aim has always been to be as inclusive as possible, so that even children with complex medical needs are able to drive.

This latest study used an electronic tracking system developed by two former high school students to record participants' car usage. Now freshmen at Brown University, twins Benjamin and Joshua Phelps started working in Logan's lab when they were freshmen at South Eugene High School and used open-source coding to craft a system that logged every push of the ignition button and the length of each use.

"The reason behind this study was to figure out what happens when families get cars and they're not part of a research study and they're not getting systematic support," said Logan, a kinesiologist in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Turns out, when we gave the cars out for three months and tracked their use, the average was about seven days out of 90 that they were used."

The drop-off in usage was significant: In the more hands-on studies, kids used the cars for an average of 1,060 minutes over three months; in this one, they averaged only 171 minutes, most of which occurred in the first 45 days. Half of the 14 participants saw less than 100 total minutes of use, including one child who never used the car.

In a companion study, families said the two biggest barriers to usage were their environment and the kids' responses to the device. The noise, speed and lack of finesse-steering posed challenges for some kids, and limited space or bad weather kept some families from making the car part of their regular routine.

To overcome those barriers, as the cars become more widespread, Logan sees the need for a welcome kit to help families get started, telling them what to expect and how to approach specific problems, as well as offering ideas for fun ways to use the cars, like driving to the mailbox or setting up a play car wash.

Community-based support is also crucial. Families in similar situations could share their knowledge with newcomers, and public recreational spaces could better accommodate the Go Baby Go cars.

"What we haven't figured out yet is, what can that support look like in a way that's sustainable across the country," Logan said.
Co-authors on the study include OSU researchers Kathleen Bogart and Bill Smart, graduate students Michele Catena and Christina Hospodar, undergraduate students Jenna Fitzgerald and Sarah Schaffer, and South Eugene High School students Benjamin and Joshua Phelps. Additional co-authors were Heather Feldner from the University of Washington and Bethany Sloane from Oregon Health & Science University.

Oregon State University

Related Children Articles:

Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.
Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.
Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.
Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.
Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).
Children with autism are in 'in-tune' with mom's feelings like other children
New research addresses limitations of prior autism spectrum disorder (ASD) studies on facial emotion recognition by using five distinct facial emotions in unfamiliar and familiar (mom) faces to test the influence of familiarity in children with and without ASD.
First Nations children and youth experiencing more pain than non-First Nations children
First Nations children and youth are experiencing more pain than non-First Nations children, but do not access specialist or mental health services at the same rate as their non-First Nations peers, found new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Grandparents: Raising their children's children, they get the job done
Millions of children are being raised solely by their grandparents, with numbers continuing to climb as the opioid crisis and other factors disrupt families.
How do you assess pain in children who can't express themselves? New research identifies priorities in identifying pain in nonverbal children with medical complexity
Pain is a frequent problem for children with complex medical conditions -- but many of them are unable to communicate their pain verbally.
Under age 13, suicide rates are roughly double for black children vs. white children
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that racial disparities in suicide rates are age-related.
More Children News and Children Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at