Fort Myers pediatric physical therapy

Pediatric Physical Therapy Students Develop Technology to Help Children With Disabilities

If there was ever such a thing as a real-life Santa’s workshop for children with disabilities, it’s probably a bit closer to the equator than the North Pole. At the University of North Florida, pediatric physical therapy students have been partnering with those in the school’s engineering program, pooling their talent to create specialized toys for children with special needs.

The Florida Times-Union reports the pediatric physical therapy students have been working to help develop solutions from battery-powered ride-on cars for children with mobility issues to voice-activated toys for children who need speech therapy to electronic fidget cubes for high school students with autism.

Our FOCUS Fort Myers pediatric physical therapy professionals applaud the UNF Adaptive Toy project, first started in 2014 to help meet the needs for toys for local children with disabilities. The program has already become a model for nearly a half-dozen higher education programs across the country, with professors of electrical engineering and physical therapy at the college leading the way. Since the program was first launched, it has produced 31 cars for children with special needs, and two new toys were added just this year.

The pediatric physical therapy and electrical engineering students are continually working to resolve glitches and dream up ideas for new toys, specifically for children who suffer from disabilities such as cerebral palsy, genetic disorders and spinal muscular atrophy.

FOCUS Fort Myers Pediatric Physical Therapy Program Accepts Top Students

Our FOCUS Fort Myers pediatric physical therapy program encourages physical therapists as well as therapy assistants and physical therapy interns to apply. We are always looking for team players who are on board with a multi-disciplinary approach to physical therapy and are interested in the “whole child” approach, as we offer speech, ABA, occupational and physical therapy at our Fort Myers clinic. We recognize that each child’s progression is often dependent on the interconnected systems and skills that can be developed in a clinic where they can glean all of this – and where therapists can collaborate with each other and and obtain professional input from those in other disciplines.

At our center, clients are not just appointments – they are part of our FOCUS family.

Innovation is key when working with children with special needs, especially in this ever-evolving technological age. Children with delays and other special needs benefit when we all work together with creative, inventive solutions.

Pediatric Physical Therapy Students Seek New Solutions to Long-Standing Challenges

In the UNF program, the engineering and pediatric physical therapy students most recently worked on customizing a special car for a 2-year-old boy with spinal muscular atrophy. He especially loved Lightning McQueen from the movie “Cars.” The goal was not just help him better navigate his surroundings – due to weakness in his lower extremities – but to do so in a way that had him enthusiastic. For him, it was all “play,” which is exactly how our FOCUS pediatric physical therapists approach each session. In the end, it also stimulates interactive social and cognitive development too – but we never call it that. Our therapists don’t ask children in the waiting room if they want to, “Go do some therapy.” Instead, we say, “Let’s go play!”

That’s why these engineering and pediatric physical therapy students – teaming up together – have exactly the right idea.

In this case, students adapted the steering wheel to allow for controlled steeling and installed a harness, rails and bottom to ensure he was safe and secure.

Meanwhile, the voice-activated toy project, a grinning giraffe at the helm of a boat with wheels and modified fidget cube – served a child with speech delays.

This is precisely the kind of drive, creativity and compassion we strive for in our FOCUS pediatric physical therapy team.

FOCUS offers pediatric physical therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

University of North Florida students create specialized toys for special kids, Nov. 5, 2018, By Teresa Stepzinski, The Florida Times-Union

More Blog Entries:

Physical Therapy Targets Gross Motor Delays That Spur Other Problems, April 6, 2018, FOCUS Fort Myers Pediatric Physical Therapy Blog

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