Robot Assistants for Promoting Crawling and Walking
in Children at Risk of Cerebral Palsy

Principal Investigators:

Andrew H. Fagg, OU CS and Bioengineering

Lei Ding, OU ECE and Bioengineering

Thubi H.A. Kolobe,, OUHSC Rehabilitation Sciences

David P. Miller, OU AME and Bioengineering

Effective robotic assistance of infants with or at risk of developing Cerebral Palsy (CP) has the potential to reduce the significant functional limitations as well as the potential deficits in cognitive development. This project focuses on the development and testing of 1) a sequence of robotic assistants} that promote early crawling, creeping, and walking, and 2) a model of infant-robot interaction that encourages the continued practice of movement patterns that will ultimately lead to unassisted locomotion.

Typically developing infants initially learn to crawl through the generation of spontaneous limb and trunk movements. Early in the process, these spontaneous movements transport the infant across the floor. The rewarding locomotory experience drives the infant to refine the movements to intentional and exploratory skills. Ultimately, the infant intentionally engages these skills to solve larger problems, such as obtaining an interesting toy or exploring their environment. Infants with conditions such as CP lack the muscle strength, postural control, and motor coordination necessary for these early exploratory limb and trunk movements to result in locomotion. Without this positive feedback, the development of the neural pathways for productive limb use is diminished, which results in delayed or lack of development of crawling and walking. These limitations in mobility negatively affect other domains of development such as perception and cognition, with effects being visible even into adulthood.

Funding Sources


fagg at cs.ou.edu

Last modified: Tue Oct 30 00:06:25 2012