Force Fields



Go Baby Go

Dr. Cole Galloway started “hacking” Power Wheels to help provide mobility for kids with disabilities. His organization “Go Baby Go” now has chapters all over the country to custom modify cars for kids who have difficulty getting around. Read More>>

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-11-39-49-amThis Doctor Is Recreating Popular Toys for Kids with Disabilities

For many kids with mobility issues, playing can be an exercise in frustration. Large and small motor skill delays—and more profound challenges like holding up their heads—can make enjoying toys tough for many kids with special needs. But Cole Galloway, PT, Ph.D., a professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of Delaware, is out to change that.

Dr. Galloway started a research lab in 2000 to study how kids learn to move their bodies. His work included kids with special needs like cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities, and he soon realized that there are no commercially available power wheelchairs for kids younger than 3. Out of frustraton, he and a research assistant bought a labful of ride-on cars and trucks from Toys R Us and set about adapting them for little ones with physical impairments, using simple materials like PVC pipe and nuts and bolts.

From there, he decided to found GoBabyGo. This innovative company’s goal is to get kids with mobility issues moving by modifying kids’ toys such as Fisher Price’s jeeps and cars (many of which are donated by FP’s parent company, Mattel). The modified toys are also customized for each child, to provide targeted physical therapy. For example, for one child named Xander with cerebral palsy, Dr. Galloway adapted a four-wheeler so that the boy would have to stand up to power the vehicle forward, thus helping to strengthen his muscles while he drives around. Read More>>

103979569-kid-in-car-1kduy9g-530x298The doctor who is recreating play for disabled children


Six-year-old Paxton Padilla’s mom, Suzanne, gets choked up when she talks about trying to create the best life possible for her son in spite of his mobility issues.

“Since he was born, he has an underlying genetic syndrome that they can’t figure out what it is,” she told CNBC. “He has a congenital heart defect that’s pretty severe, and because of a lot of his neurological issues, he’s non-ambulatory, so he can’t walk, he can’t talk … he is limited in how he can interact with his environment around him.”

Suzanne, though, remains hopeful. That’s thanks in part to Dr. Cole Galloway, a professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of Delaware and the founder of GoBabyGo, an organization that modifies kids’ toys, like Fisher-Price Power Wheels jeeps, so that children with even the most severe mobility issues can still use them.

“We make either mechanical modifications to help you sit stably and be ready to drive and/or electrical modifications where we give you a bigger switch. If you can’t move anything but your head, that’s cool. We’ll put the switch behind you and you’ll be able to hit it,” said Dr. Galloway. Read More>>

dsc_1207Then and “Nao”: UD lab experimenting with social robot’s use in child rehabilitation

University of Delaware researchers are exploring a social robot’s application to pediatric rehabilitation in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University.

At UD’s Spencer Lab, foam flooring, steps and boxes are set up to create a playground where children with motor disabilities can interact with Nao, a social robot.

UD’s Herbert Tanner is one of the researchers involved in the project, which he said is about engaging children ages one to five in social learning.

“There are some kids that we have observed in pilot studies that feel very comfortable around Nao,” Tanner said. “Other infants, little kids, maybe are sort of a little intimidated because they’re looking at a moving machine that’s about their own size. So we’re trying to throw into the mix different types of robots, more children friendly, more colorful perhaps; we want to make the whole environment as child-friendly as possible.”

The team, which also includes UD’s Cole Galloway and Jeffrey Heinz, recently received a grant from the National Institute of Health to explore how Nao, along with a harness system needed to support these children, can be used in pediatric rehabilitation.  Read more>>


dash_for_ds_6x9_at300ppiWind in her hair, smile on her face, 18-month-old Ella Bayham stands up in her pint-sized, plastic blue four-wheeler with red-flame decals and rocks forward to make the battery-operated vehicle go faster. It would be a cute story for most parents, but for Ella’s, it’s actually quite extraordinary.

Ella has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that causes low muscle tone and, often, delayed development. While the toddler fought traditional physical therapy to strengthen her legs, she now happily stands in her custom ride so she can pick up a little speed. The four-wheeler, which was modified through a program called “GoBabyGo,” moves only when Ella stands up inside the carriage.

“I don’t personally know anyone whose child with Down syndrome walked before 2,” said Ella’s mother, Valerie Bayham, of Brentwood, Tennessee. Yet Ella regularly stands and even walks with assistance, with what her mother calls, “the biggest smile on the planet.”

The Bayham family miracle, along with the answered prayers of thousands of other families, started simply enough: with a toy and a question. In 2006, Cole Galloway was a professor of physical therapy at the University of Delaware trying to find a way to help nonmobile children get moving. He knew crawling triggered a wave of cognitive development in babies. Children who couldn’t move themselves around — for example, those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and some with autism — were at an extreme developmental disadvantage. There weren’t even wheelchairs for children younger than 3 years old. Read more>>



University of Delaware Program Helps Young Girl Return to Passion for Cooking

A young woman battling a severe brain injury is making great strides, thanks to a research project at the University of Delaware.

Twenty-three-year-old Corey Beattie is back in her happy place, cooking in the kitchen, thanks to a special harness that allows her to move in all directions without the fear of falling.

 Six years ago, when Corey was in high school, applying to culinary school, she was struck in a horrible car accident.

“It’s the phone call that no parent ever wants to get,” said Marie Beattie.

Her mother says among other injuries, Corey suffered a severe brain injury.

“She was unable to do anything – no speech, no movement, nothing,” said Beattie.

She spent months in the hospital, years doing rehabilitation. Recently, she joined the University of Delaware’s Go Baby Go program.

It has several research projects designed to help kids and adults with special needs. Corey started in their café with her first harness.

Devina Kumar says the goal was to improve mobility and social skills – outside a traditional therapy setting.

“Having a harness in the real world is so much more effective as compared to having it in a fake environment,” said Devina Kumar, Go Baby Go, University of Delaware.  Read more>>


Harnessing Mobility

Harness system helps brain injury survivor regain mobility, reignite cooking dreams

Corey Beattie was in car crash. A horrific one. After a fall evening in 2010 out line dancing with her friends, their vehicle was involved in an accident on Route 896 near New London, Pennsylvania.

Some of the 17-year-old’s injuries – a broken clavicle, right femur fracture, a broken neck – would pale in comparison to the devastating traumatic brain injury (TBI) she received from the violent collision. In Hollywood, this impairment is often portrayed as a short-term hurdle.

“It’s way different in real life,” said Beattie, now age 23.

She would need years of intensive and acute care before she could even leave the hospital. She would never achieve her dream of graduating culinary school and becoming a chef … or so conventional wisdom would dictate.

But those who have met University of Delaware Department of Physical Therapy faculty member Cole Galloway and doctoral student Devina Kumar know they don’t believe in the words never or conventional.

Beattie’s mother Marie, a steadfast advocate for TBI survivors, regularly blogs about her experiences. Debbie Dunlap, whose daughter Anne participated in UD’s GoBabyGo research program, read a post and gave the name of the Beattie family to UD.

Soon after, Corey Beattie was standing in a harness system, working in the GoBabyGo Café in the University’s STAR Health Sciences Complex. Read more>>



main_image_Kitchen‘Never give up, never give in’

It’s a Monday morning in mid-March and a miracle is about to happen in Marie Beattie’s kitchen.

She fastens her daughter, Corey, into an innovative, free-standing harness system that has been installed in the kitchen of the home. Corey stands up steadier and straighter than she has in more than five years. The harness system moves along a track and is specifically designed for her weight so that she can move the bar that is attached to two poles that run the length of the kitchen, giving her the ability to stand and walk around the room on her own. Marie says that the harness looks like something that Corey could wear while jumping out of an airplane, or perhaps zooming along a zipline, but its purpose is much more basic than that: it prevents Corey from losing her balance and falling. Marie stays close behind, but that is only a precaution. 

Marie tells her daughter that she has eggs, fruit, yogurt, and cereal as breakfast options. Corey chooses the cereal. But instead of Marie getting the cereal for her daughter, as she would have last year or even last month, Corey starts moving on her own. She heads to the cabinet where the cereal bowls are located. She needs some help because the bowls are on a shelf that she can’t reach. Marie gets the bowl and hands it to her daughter. Next, Corey heads to the refrigerator, where she picks up the milk that she will need. She’s walking and holding a bowl simultaneously. A moment later, she is sitting at the table and pouring the cereal into a bowl and adding the milk. The chore is one that most twenty-three-year-olds do without thinking, but for Corey these tasks represent how far she has come since that fateful fall night in October of 2010.

It’s been consistent progress, but super slow,” Marie explained. “She has never plateaued.”

There is no plateau in sight, either.

Marie asks Corey what their mantra is.

Never give up, never give in,” Corey replied. Read more>>


GoBabyGo CafeUD, Accudyne create harness for physically disabled

Anne Dunlap had suffered a traumatic brain injury, and has trouble standing up, but last week she was serving coffee, scooping ice cream and using a bagel slicer at a kiosk at the University of Delaware.

The technology was created in a UD laboratory, but the application was built by Accudyne Systems Inc. of Newark, based on an “aha” moment that happened while one of the company’s founders was driving south on I-95.

The kiosk includes a harness system that allows users to move around anywhere within a 50-square-foot space. There’s a quick-release in back, in case the user wants to sit down.

In written comments, Dunlap said the kiosk was easy to move around in. There’s no drag and the harness feels light when moving, she said.

It was “the first time in more than 16 years I’ve had the freedom to move securely in any direction without holding on to something,” she said. “I feel comfortable and liberated because I’m secure and protected – and I don’t have to worry about falling.” Read more.