High-tech care for kids
The brightly colored skateboard-like motorized device for infants looks like it could be the coolest new learning enhancement toy destined to sell out for the winter holidays, but it’s an experimental medical device that can sense the motions of infants with cerebral palsy and respond with a powered assist to help them learn to crawl. It’s one of the new pediatric medical technologies you can read about in this issue; others include powered exoskeletons and sophisticated virtual reality platforms that can help children with gait impairments improve their walking ability (see “Cutting edge: Treatment for kids goes high tech,” page 8).
High-tech devices (wearable sensors) are also highlighted in our feature on tailoring balance interventions to kids’ age-related needs (see “Firm foundation: Better balance for young patients,” page 15) and in two November LER articles (“Assessing runners’ gait using wearable sensors,” page 43; and “Video overlay feedback helps improve biomechanics of sport-specific landing,” page 11).
Yet, for a variety of reasons, pediatric medical technology often lags five to 10 years behind new technology for adults. The market is smaller and research is more complicated, but it’s also an engineering problem, with snags arising from the physics of miniaturization and other issues writ small.
And, even with all of the potential and promise of technology for doing things other treatments can’t—as well as doing it faster, more precisely, with less weight or bulk, and all the other allures of next-gen science—lower-tech methods and care still have an important role in pediatric care.
For one, they are typically well-tested and understood. Wearable sensors, for example, suffer from technical glitches and a lack of evidence-based validation. Low-tech options also may be more affordable and accessible.
As LER’s editor in chief Jordana Bieze Foster notes in her November editorial (see “Low tech, high value,” page 9), “Hi-tech may be the way of the future, but low-tech approaches still have a lot to offer.” Emily Delzell, Senior Editor
By Emily Delzell, Senior Editor
Textured insoles worn in walking shoes can improve the dynamic postural balance of young ballet dancers both with and without previous injury, according to study data from Canberra, Australia, which also suggested textured insoles can be useful as a routine intervention.
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Young male tennis players prefer a wider shoe with more interior volume, while upper stiffness matters less, according to a new study from France that correlated the players’ perceptions of comfort with measurements taken with innovative textile pressure sensors.
By Hank Black
From a skateboard-like motion-sensing device that helps infants with CP learn to crawl to powered exoskeletons that sync with muscles to new advanced-imaging views of motor and sensory processing, technology for pediatric care is on the move. Here are some of the highlights.
By Hank Black
Children with neurological conditions often have balance issues, and healthy kids can struggle, too. Interventions should be tailored to their short attention spans and need for feedback, and include devices that improve alignment and stability and training to enhance strength and equilibrium.
By P.K. Daniel