Johns Hopkins University CBID Students Accept Design Challenge to Develop an Interactive Rehabilitation Device for Young Children
Updated June 17, 2018
In April, Amy Bastian, PhD, the Chief Science Officer for Kennedy Krieger Institute, presented a design challenge to the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design (CBID) students at the Johns Hopkins University. CBID has a program that pairs teams of Biomedical Engineering undergraduate students with clinical sponsors, faculty members, professional designers, engineers and scientists to define and implement an impactful project addressing a clinical or research need.
In her presentation, Dr. Bastian explained how movement is critical during a child’s development. Many children with brain disorders have poor trunk control which makes sitting, reaching, standing and walking impossible without assistance. Early childhood is key to addressing mobility issues in children. During this time, the brain is developing neural connections that are essential for mobility for the rest of their lives.
One of the most important influences on whether neural connections stay or go is whether those connections are used. Thus, the variety, intensity and type of experiences of young children are important for their developing brains. Connections that are regularly used as a child moves are the ones that are more likely to “stick” while unused connections may be weakened or removed. It stands to reason that the child’s brain structure may be optimized early on for learning motor patterns. The child must engage in these activities so the right connections are laid down.
While practice is essential for children as they learn to walk, sit, reach and stand, motivating and enabling practice of specific motor patterns is challenging in young children with brain disorders. Technological approaches exist for training and motivating older children and adults, however, limited technological approaches exist for young children.
The goal is to create a device that engages toddlers and pre-school aged children in tasks that teach healthy movement patterns. The device should be immersive, interactive and customized.
We are pleased to report that Dr. Bastian’s project was selected as one of the projects that a CBID team will focus on for 2018/2019. The project committee has formed and the next step will be solution prototyping and an Innovation Showcase in December. Throughout early 2019, proof-of-concept experiments will take place and finally in May, 2019, the students will present their projects at Design Day. The team will work together with Dr. Bastian and Joey’s Foundation has committed to fund early stage development of a technological approach. Your support makes this research possible and we look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.
Representatives of the Joey’s Foundation are collaborating with Dr. Amy Bastian, Chief Science Officer at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Bastian is Director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory. She is Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Bastian’s team studies a variety of processes, ranging from visual perceptual to fundamental motor action, including balance, arm/hand control and walking.
Joey’s Foundation is providing statements of problems related to activities of daily living experienced by children with brain injury to Dr. Bastian. Biomedical engineering students from Johns Hopkins University are engaged in solving problems presented by Joey’s Foundation.
We expect to build on this work to develop innovative products that are useful to children from a practical day to day standpoint and long term improvement in motor control.
In addition, representatives from Joey’s Foundation are exploring innovative clothing, exercise equipment and physical therapy treatments that result in improvement in muscle tone, balance, gross and fine motor control and speech.