Starfish Therapies

March 19, 2014

Independent Exploration with Power Mobility

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 9:00 am
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Independent exploration is an important part of a child’s development.  Power mobility is one way kids with limited mobility can begin to independently explore their environment.  Here is some information on one way to encourage early power mobility in an inexpensive way.

Did you know that there is emerging research on the benefits of early power mobility for high-risk infants? Yes, that’s right, Cole Galloway, PT, PhD and his team of therapists and engineers at the University of Delaware have been converting toy power cars into low-tech power mobility devices for infants and toddlers to begin exploring early mobility through space and are getting some great results. The best part is, with an appropriately sized toy power car, a switch your child can access, some PVC pipe, pool noodle, kick boards, and a little knowledge of power tools and electrical wiring, not to mention the instructions on their website, you can customize a car at a relatively low cost to meet your child’s unique needs. In addition to their first power car design, Mater (see above), the team at University of Delaware is brainstorming new creative ideas to promote motor skills like developing toy power cars that encourage standing by moving forward when the child stands up and power assisted walking by removing the weight bearing surface on their stand up cars to allow the child to take steps.

While only a few case reports have been published to date looking at the benefits of early power mobility with these modified toy power cars, early data suggests that they can improve a child’s social skills, cognitive function, teach spatial awareness, improve communication skills, and provide a functional and age appropriate means of transportation in a home or preschool environment that the child’s peers will love!

We have recently used one of these cars with a kiddo in their school environment.  While they needed some support to use this device, they were able to play with their peers on the playground.  The kids were pretending that they were a train and the kiddo in the car was the engine and the rest of them were the various cars of the train.  All children involved loved it!


For more information check out the GoBabyGo! website. 


  1. Huang HH, Ragonesi CB, Stoner T, Peffley T, Galloway JC. Modified Toy Cars for Mobility and Socialization: Case Report of a Child With Cerebral Palsy. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2013 Nov 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Huang HH, Galloway JC. Modified ride-on toy cars for early power mobility: a technical report. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2012 Summer;24(2):149-54.
  3. Ragonesi CB, Galloway JC. Short-term, early intensive power mobility training: case report of an infant at risk for cerebral palsy. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2012 Summer;24(2):141-8.


  1. Fantastic idea- thanks for the resource list! We have a mini cooper in our clinic and it has had an incredibly positive impact on exploration for many of our children.

    Comment by Caroline — April 2, 2014 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  2. There is actually more research about early mobility through power – in fact there was a course at the APTA Innovations in School Based PT conference last summer by Maria Jones, PT, PhD. She also has done some research, though using more traditional power chairs. There is also a review about introducing and using power mobility in young children. I also got to attend the course with Dr. Galloway and his group at the SoPAC last year in Anaheim. It was amazing, and fairly simple to do!

    Comment by Karen Stone — July 25, 2014 @ 3:27 am | Reply

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