Current Projects

Baby Play

Baby Play Project 

The way that parents play with their babies can impact babies’ future development of a variety of milestones. In this project we are providing developmental and play assessments to babies born full-term or preterm starting when they are less than 5 months old. We are educating parents on ways to play with their young babies and then are looking at the impact of that play on babies’ development. We are flexible in scheduling our visits with families and can perform them in families’ homes or daycare settings, based on parent preference. Our aim is to learn how to best educate families to play with their babies in the future. 

Contact information: (302) 831-8666/ andreabc@udel.edu 

Smart Garments

Measurement & Support of Movement

This project brings together experts in apparel design, engineering, and rehabilitation to create garments that can measure and support arm movement. A smart garment that can measure movement activity while being comfortable, streamlined, affordable, and fashionable would allow for real-world measurement of activity in natural settings. A garment like this could provide rehabilitation professionals important information about activity between in-person visits. It could also be used to provide wearers feedback to change their behavior. Or it could be used to control devices in the environment. The project also aims to develop support shirts (aka exoskeletal garments, such as the Playskin Air shirt with inflatable air bladders to lift the arms) that provide arm support for users with movement impairments. Garments like these could be helpful for people with muscle weakness due to medical diagnoses or aging. This is a collaborative project with the University of Minnesota and Virginia Tech.

Let’s Eat!

Self-Feeding Project

The purpose of this project is to learn more about how children learn to feed themselves and to identify challenges that might limit this ability for children who have trouble moving their arms. There is very little research on how young children learn to eat on their own in early childhood. In the current study, we are exploring how young children interact with food and utensils. This will help us understand how children learn to feed themselves so we can better teach this skill. It will also help us identify challenges that limit this skill for children with disabilities so we can develop interventions and assistive technologies to make them more independent. We are currently working with design students at the University of Delaware to create feeding tools and environments that help children overcome the challenges we identify.

START-Play!

Efficacy of the START-Play Program for Infants with Neuromotor Disorders

START-Play is a project aimed at better understanding the development of early movement and learning skills and ways these skills can be advanced. Also, the project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of Sitting Together And Reaching To Play (START-Play), an intervention designed to target sitting, reaching, and motor-based problem solving to improve development and readiness to learn for infants with motor delays. The program enrolls children 7-16 months of age who are able to sit only briefly or who cannot yet move in and out of the sitting position on their own. Duquesne University, the University of Delaware, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Washington, and the University of Nebraska Lincoln are involved.

http://start-play.unl.edu

Past Projects

PlaySkin Lift

The First Exoskeletal Garment for Rehabilitation

Children born with movement impairments are at risk for additional developmental problems due to their inability to move their bodies to explore, learn, and play. This project tested how the Playskin Lift, a garment that helps lift the arms against gravity, could impact exploration and play in children with trouble moving their arms. This project taught us that the Playskin Lift helped to improve arm use and play ability when it was worn within a session (it changed behavior right away). It also taught us that wearing it each day for brief periods of intervention may make children stronger and better able to move and play across time on their own when they had the garment off.

I Want My Video Games Too!

Adapted Video Game Controller Project

Traditional video game controller have had a very constant design for the past two decades and can be very difficult to use for those with fine motor impairments. Adaptive video game controllers do exist but can cost up to $1,500 making them very impractical. This study aims to observe how children with upper extremity movement impairments currently play video games, and through a user-driven approach, to design an open access affordable video game controller adapter to allow for more inclusive play with friends.

Angles App

Assessment of Movement in Children and Adults   

It is important for physical therapists and athletic trainers to know how much people are moving their joints during everyday activities. They may want to be sure people avoid movement in certain ranges to protect their joints from injury or they may want to show that people are gaining movement across time after an injury. We lack inexpensive, accurate ways of measuring joint angles when people are moving.  The purpose of this project is to determine whether a new app called Angles Video Goniometer app (Angles) can accurately and consistently measure joint angles in children and adults. Duquesne University and the University of Delaware are involved.

Dress for Success

Jeans for Independence

Children with trouble moving want to look good just like their friends but may have trouble dressing in some of the fashionable clothes available in stores. This project aims to see if we can work with kids and families to co-design jeans that are fashionable and trendy but that are also easy for kids to put on, fasten, and remove.