Domain: Research

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology, Inclusive Design

Dynamic seating for children with severe movement disorders

Location: UK

Learn to Move | Move to Learn - Children learn to move by exploring movement, and use movement to help them learn. For children with complex movement disorders like dystonia who can experience powerful involuntary whole body movements, moving can become something that disrupts every aspect of their lives. They are often constrained into seats designed to provide support and position them safely in an upright sitting position, but their movements are often strong enough to break seats. GDI Hub is working with Designability to evaluate a new kind of seat that moves with the child and enables them to explore movement while they are seated and well supported. Early work has suggested that children can use the freedom afforded to them to learn how to better control their movements, and improve their head and hand control.

We are currently starting up a feasibility trial to evaluate a protocol to test six seats with children with complex movement disorders, working with the Evelina London Children's Hospital, Designability and another local NHS partner. The seats and the methods we are using were developed with families, children with dystonia and their families and clinicians, so we know that we are measuring thing that matter to them. Examples include how well they sleep at night, how well they can reach for a toy, and how well they can do tasks that they choose for themselves. The trial will take two years to complete.

We are grateful to Sparks children's medical research charity for funding this work.