With help from students in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences (PTHMS) and support from McCormick School of Engineering, a group of toddlers were able to take customized electric cars for a spin at Northwestern as part of the Go Baby Go program on August 2.
Students helped retrofit the cars for children with limited mobility to give them the freedom to move on their own and students the opportunity to work with real-world pediatric patients.
Although Go Baby Go workshops have been active since 2014 at Northwestern, this is the second year the program has been embedded as a specialty topic within the Clinical Management of the Complex Patient course as part of the PTHMS curriculum. The course also prepares students for the collaboration involved in addressing difficult therapy cases through partnership with McCormick engineering students.
The children were selected from a pool of interested referrals in Chicagoland, including families and community therapists, who applied through the Pediatric Assessment Laboratories website. The program is supported by PTHMS, a grant from the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy and individual donations.
See below for photos and profiles of the young participants.
Vera relocated to the U.S. almost a year ago seeking a newly available treatment for her muscle disease. Vera is just developing her sitting balance and cannot stand or walk due to her weakness. While her family is working to obtain the treatment, the team modified her vehicle for greater stability with an extra wheel, harness and hip supports so Vera can explore and engage her world with greater independence.
Maya had a medically challenging start to life, but her family is eager to provide her ways to move and explore. The team added storage for her suction machine, a removable pole for her feeding pump and other postural supports. When the family left the event, Maya practiced driving the car on her own on the way back to the parking lot.
Collins has motion limitations and, due to joint tightness, functional limitations. Since his family’s priority goal is to facilitate his interest in standing, the team adapted a four-wheeler ATV that goes when Collins stands and stops when he sits to help him eventually walk on his own.
William has challenges with movement that limit his ability to walk. To help him keep up with his family, the team adapted his vehicle to give him extra postural support and room to bring his siblings along for rides. the Landspeeder also fits in with the family’s interest in all things Star Wars.