A collaborative project between the University of Regina (U of R) and Wascana Rehabilitation Centre’s Children’s Program is giving children with disabilities the freedom of mobility.
A U of R researcher and several graduate students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science modified two off-the-shelf ride-on cars, allowing children to drive with the push of a button, or even their knees or head.
For two-year-old Khyla Buium, it gives her the freedom to play and explore like any other kid.
“As a parent, that’s what you wish for, for your child to be happy and thrive in whatever they choose to do,” Khyla’s mom, Julie Buium said.
“Seeing her have that independence really does make me very happy.”
Shortly after Khyla was born, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting every muscle in her body.
“By giving these children the opportunity to control their movement, so to be in these cars, they get social and emotional development,” occupational therapist, Kim Schaan said.
For four-year-old Nickolia, the technology also helps improve his hand eye coordination. He was born with Joubert syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, he has difficulty moving especially his hands and mouth.
“When you see him drive a car, and you show that to people and they light up because they don’t expect it,” Nickolia’s grandpa Glenn Mcivor said.
“There are different ways to know that walking is probably not going to be their lifelong mobility tool, that we know we’re going to be looking at a power wheelchair down the road,” Schaan said.
While Nickolia will eventually transition to a power wheelchair, for the moment, he has freedom and for parents like Buium it gives them hope.
“There’s some hope there that her future will be bright, if we can keep offering these types of things.