VCU professor creates device to help babies learn to crawl

Published: Sep. 25, 2015 at 8:20 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2015 at 9:06 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A medical breakthrough is in the works for babies struggling to crawl on their own, including many with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders.

Now, a VCU professor has come up with a device that can help these children move around like any other baby. Dr. Peter Pidcoe describes a device he helped develop as a wheeled skateboard motorized to help them move when they really can't. He's worked on  it for more than a decade. It's called the 'Self- Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler or  SIPPC. The SIPPC was created to help children with cerebral palsy with their movement patterns.

"It's designed to detect movement in a child any movement. It's got three different input strategies. One is the wheels on it. If they sense being rocked back and forth, it makes a decision to promote that movement and activate," said Dr. Peter Pidcoe.

Researchers first tested the device on stuffed animals before children tried it out. The results are looking good.

"Research-wise we've seen kids with cerebral palsy without the device basically sit in one spot on the floor. You put them on this device and now they're exploring 20 feet. They're moving around the room trying to find every object they can find," said Dr. Pidcoe.

He says it's rewarding to watch the development of the children and the hope it offers their parents.

"The parents are actually more fun to watch because they've got children that they know can't move like normal kids do, and when they start moving, they get extremely excited about it. I see this not only being available to kids with disabilities, but to every kid just as a way to get around," Pidcoe said.

The SIPPC is patented, but does not currently have a manufacturer.

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