Powered Mobility Device Use and Developmental Change of Young Children with Cerebral Palsy

Behav Sci (Basel). 2023 May 10;13(5):399. doi: 10.3390/bs13050399.


Mobility is a fundamental human right and is supported by the United Nations and the ON Time Mobility framework. The purpose of this study was to understand the effect of a powered mobility intervention on developmental changes of children with cerebral palsy (CP). This study was a randomized, crossover clinical trial involving 24 children (12-36 months) diagnosed with CP or with high probability of future CP diagnosis based on birth history and current developmental status. Children received the Explorer Mini and a modified ride-on car in randomized order, each for 8 weeks. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-4th Edition was administered at baseline, mid-study, and end-of-study. Raw change scores were used for analysis. Total minutes of use per device was categorized as low or high use for analysis based on caregiver-reported driving diaries. Explorer Mini: The high use group exhibited significantly greater positive change scores compared to the low use group on receptive communication, expressive communication, and gross motor subscales (p < 0.05). Modified ride-on car: No significant differences between low and high use groups. Regardless of device, low use was associated with no significant developmental change and high use was associated with positive developmental changes. Mobility access is critical to maximize the development of children with CP and may be augmented by using powered mobility devices. Results may have implications for the development of evidence-based guidelines on dosage for powered mobility use.

Keywords: cerebral palsy; disability; mobility; technology.