Nicole Pineau & Colleen Sanderson

Introducing Power Mobility In Early Childhood: Parents’ and Therapists’ Perspectives

Authors: Colleen Sanderson, Nicole Pineau, Roslyn Livingstone, Debbie Field, & Dr. Jill Zwicker

Introduction. Limited independent mobility reduces childhood participation in desired occupations and negatively influences child development. Power mobility use is linked to cognitive, physical, and social benefits through increased mobility and exploration. However, power mobility use by young children is limited, in part due to minimal availability of child-friendly devices. Objectives. This study explored families’ and therapists’ perspectives regarding their experience with an introductory power mobility session comparing four power mobility devices developed for young children. Methods. Researchers ran ‘Power Mobility Days’ at eight child development centres across British Columbia. Young children (under 6 years of age) with mobility limitations tried the Bugzi, WizzyBug, Tiger Cub, and motorized ride-on toy car in a 1-1½ hour session. Consenting parents and therapists who attended the session then participated at a later date in semi-structured phone interviews asking about their experience of the day and their impressions about power mobility for their children/clients. These interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed using a directed content analysis approach. Results. We completed 22 interviews with 11 parents and 11 therapists. Children ranged in age from 12 to 48 months and had a range of neuromotor disorders, with cerebral palsy being most prevalent. Four themes were identified: Change in perspective; Social integration of children and parents; Power Mobility Days as an acceptable way to introduce power mobility; Function and aesthetics as priorities for parents and therapists. Conclusion. Participation in Power Mobility Days exposed parents’ and therapists’ to the use of novel power mobility devices and their potential to improve functional outcomes for young children with mobility limitations. This experience expanded their understanding of early power mobility options, and increased desire to pursue early power mobility as an intervention.