Los Angeles: Scientists have developed new toy cars that encourage children with disabilities to engage in physical and social activities.
The sit-to-stand car encourages the child to stand up in order to activate the switch that makes the car move.
The goal is to encourage the physical skills of pulling up to stand, bear weight and balance, while also fostering more interaction with peers, said researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) in the US. While the "Throw Baby Throw" car is a modified toy car that uses a toy pitching machine to throw foam balls.
The goal is to provide a way for children who have upper extremity limits to participate in throwing, a fundamental motor skill, while also facilitating socialisation, researchers said.
"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 at OSU. "Movement and socialisation are very often combined early and continually as children develop," Logan said.
The sit-to-stand car was designed for children who may or are expected to walk eventually but their walking is delayed.
In the study of the sit-to-stand car in use, researchers found that a child with disabilities spent about 10 per cent more time engaging with his peers on the playground or in the gym at school when he used the sit-to-stand car, compared to using his forearm crutches.
"That's exactly what you want to see. This car gets you up and gets you moving. It's also a way to introduce some fun around the practise of these skills that will help a child stand and walk on their own," Logan said. The study was published in the journals Frontiers in Robotics and AI.