Monday, August 14, 2017

Robot rules and features


Designing a Robot Companion for Children with Neuro-Developmental Disorders

Gelsomini M, Degiorgi M, Garzotto F, Leonardi G, Penati S, Ramuzat N, Silvestri J & Casadonte F

IDC '17 Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Interaction Design and Children 451-457


Link through to full text: //

Objective: The authors set out to do two things.

  1. to collect information from 15 pediatric therapy ‘specialists’ and create a list of desired properties in a robot companion
  2. to study the classes of features that are present in available robots

Process: 21 common robots are chosen, and the concepts are both outlaid in matrixes for comparison.

Findings: The authors come up with “Robot’s Rules”. First, desired properties: a therapy robot should facilitate, prompt, restrict, emulate, provide feedback; and act as a social mediator, an affective agent and an emotional agent. Secondly, the five classes of features that social robots should have are identified: appearance, multimodality, multisensorialilty, configurability and safety.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Test of Playfulness with CP Kids

Single group

Playfulness in Children with Limited Motor Abilities when using a Robot

Rios AM, Adams K, Magill-Evans J, & Cook A

Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics (IPOP)

DOI: 10.3109/01942638.2015.1076559

Link to full text:

Objective: For children with limited motor skills, how does robot play change playfulness?

Process: Four children with GMFCS levels IV or V played with Lego robot for 15 minutes twice a week for 14 weeks. The Test of Playfulness was applied at baseline, during intervention and at follow-up.

Findings: "Test of Playfulness scores of the four children with cerebral palsy significantly increased during the intervention compared with baseline."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sensorimotor Robot Therapy: the Anklebot

Pilot study

Pediatric robotic rehabilitation: Current knowledge and future trends in treating children with sensorimotor impairments

Michmizos KP & Krebs HI

Neurorehabilitation (pre-press) DOI: 10.3233/NRE-171458

Link to abstract:

Objective: "As long as motor learning remains the major working hypothesis for sensorimotor rehabilitation, a well-designed robotic therapy… should follow the principles of motor learning, namely massed practice, cognitive engagement and functional relevance." Sensorimotor therapy is identified as three elements: discrete and rhythmic movements, and interaction with the environment.

Process: The application of the Pedi-Anklebot 'robot' is to target ankle movements and functional walking for children with motor disabilities. The authors use the games designed to treat reduced speed, strength, accuracy, co-ordination; and cognitive or perceptual difficulties. To provide comprehensive sensorimotor therapy, practice included discrete sub movements, rhythmic oscillations and practice with ground contact.

Conclusion: "To fully harness the therapeutic power of adaptation, we need to continue our research on the special characteristics of [the] sensorimotor control… on the differences between rhythmic and discrete movements, as well as mechanical impedance training."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Robots Learn to Play


Robots Learn to Play: Robots Emerging Role in Pediatric Therapy

Howard AM

Proceedings of the 26th International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference, 2013

Link to full text:

Objective: Therapy for children includes play; at best, robots will express this quality as they are brought into the pediatric setting. Three types of robots are discussed in this article: robots (smart toys) that are operated by alternative inputs such as the smart phone, robotic orthoses that include an element of play, and autonomous robots that interact through play. In each case, examples are given.


  1. ‘Robot’ or smart toys are considered here as toys which children can play with using an alternative means of manipulation. True smart toys possess some awareness of their surroundings and additionally require some degree of autonomy to meet the definition of robot.
  2. Robotic orthoses or exoskeletons guide, limit and assist in motor movements of upper and lower extremities. Play can be incorporated into this therapy.
  3. Autonomous robot toys which engage children with intentional, purposeful imitation play. "While typically developing children possess the ability to imitate others from birth, children with pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism, demonstrate significant difficulty in object and motor imitation. Imitation skills are thought to be closely related to early language and social abilities."

Conclusion:"It seems natural then that this research thread (autonomous robotic playmates capable of engaging children in shared manipulation-based play), along with … quantitative results… emerges as the next step in the domain of robots for pediatric therapy."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Balanced Games = More Fun

Pairs study

How Game Balancing Affects Play: Player Adaptation in an Exergame for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Hwang S, Schneider ALJ, Clarke D, MacIntosh A, Switzer L, Fehlings D & Graham TCN

Conference proceedings: ACM DIS 2017, June 10 – 14, 2017, Edinburgh UK

Link to abstract:"

Player balancing changes game mechanics to accommodate differences in players’ manual and cognitive abilities. Addressing the imbalances also involves players’ awareness of a new fairness that may motivate both the advantaged and disadvantaged players.

Objective : When children with CP play knowingly balanced exergames, do the effects (including motivation) persist?

Process : Eight participants 8 – 14 years old with GMFCS scores of II or III experienced 6 hour-long sessions of either balanced or unbalanced game play.

Findings : "Our results showed that motivation was higher in balanced versus non-balanced conditions [and] perceived fun and fairness were higher for both winners and losers in balanced versus non-balanced conditions."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Testing a Therapy Assistant Robot

Proof of Concept

Adapting a General Purpose Robot for Paediatric Rehabilitation: In-situ Design of a Socially Assistive Robot

Carrillo FM, Butchart J, Knight S, Scheinberg A, Wise L, Sterling L & McCarthy C

Link to article:

Objective: Socially Assistive Robots are engaging and motivating. For social robots in pediatric rehabilitation, what are the therapist, carer and patient-centric properties needed for robots to be effective stand-alone therapeutic aids? What are the lessons from ongoing use in a clinical setting?

Process: Development began with weekly visits to clinic with the robot to stimulate brief discussions with parents and therapists; and interactions with children, followed by programmers involving therapists in cycles of programming the NAO robot and reviewing the exercise sequences. Later development shifted the sole operation of the robot to therapists, parents and care-givers. Clinical use of the robot had 5 therapists working with 9 patients over 14 sessions and continued the iterative design process.

Outcomes: The authors state: “this (deployment) approach has led to a system that not only meets minimum operational and therapeutic requirements for clinical deployment, but also has clearly established priorities for further development as we prepare for formal clinical trials of the socially assistive robot for pediatric rehabilitation.”

Monday, May 1, 2017

Distance Rehab for Kids – A Case Report

Case Report

Feasibility of Pediatric Game-Based Neurorehabilitation Using Telehealth Technologies: A Case Report

Reifenberg G, Gabrosek G, Tanner K, Harpster K Proffitt R & Persch A

American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71 7103190040


Objective: Feasibility of and suitable outcome measures for distance-monitored video game rehabilitation.

Process: A child with hemiparetic spastic cerebral palsy played 7 hours weekly for 8 weeks of computer games monitored at a distance by a therapist via videoconference technology KUBI The setup permitted the remote therapist to move their camera (iPad) to see the child and the child’s position. The distance therapist consulted with child and parents 30 minutes each week for technical issues.

The outcome measures that were expected to detect change before and after the test condition were: Quality of Upper Extremity Skills Test (QUEST), Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency 2 Ed.(BOT-2), Assisting Hand Assessment (AHA), Pediatric Evaluation and Disability Inventory-Computer Adapted Test (PEDI-CAT) and Pediatric Motor Activity Log (PMAL). Pre- and post- tests were applied two weeks before and after the game sessions.

Findings: Feasibility – the audio quality was sufficient for the therapist to interact with the child and family, and the video quality allowed the therapist to see the child’s activity without seeing the TV monitor. There were no insurmountable technical issues though this subject and family were familiar with the technologies used and so this case did not represent a truly novel situation.

Measures – All the measures were sensitive to change in the child’s performance before and after the test condition except the QUEST.

“The use of telehealth technologies provides practitioners with a mechanism to supervise treatments for clients in underserved communities. This research provides initial evidence that it is feasible to administer game-based neurorehabilitation and telehealth technologies and monitor relevant outcomes.”