I received a call last week from Children’s Hospital asking if Finn would like to be a part of an exciting new mobility study (Thanks for the recommendation, Robin!). Since Finn doesn’t speak just yet, I interceded and asked for more details.
The study began a year ago and was initially for babies with cerebral palsy. Strapped to a specially designed robotic skateboard called the SIPPC, or Self-Initiated Prone Progressions Crawler, the baby’s brain functions are monitored through high-tech sensors in the Boomer Sooner “sensor suit.” The study has recently opened up to babies with spina bifida, down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The idea is that if the baby can self-initiate movement (even if they are physically incapable of moving their legs), the brain will develop important connections with the world around it. The baby can explore, bump their head, and learn distance and height like any able bodied child. Dr. Kolobe, the researching physician, said this ability is vital to a child’s brain development.
“When they don’t move, cells in parts of the brain that control movement die,” she said. “This may be a way to keep those parts alive and as the infants mature, they may have access to those parts of the brain and be able to form additional connections with other parts of the brain. Our goal is not for them to walk but to be more functional and autonomous.”
Early intervention is paramount…they’re catching the developmental delay before it becomes delayed. Dr. Kolobe explained to us that if the skateboard can improve brain development, why can’t it improve spinal/nerve development for Finn? Makes sense.
Finn had his first ride on the board this morning and the ladies were amazed at how quickly he caught on. They said he wouldn’t begin moving until about 4 weeks into the study, but Finn proved to be a rock star yet again and paddled around (grunting in frustration the entire time) for about 10 minutes.
We’re thankful for new technology and excited to see the ways in which God will use science throughout Finn’s life. For more info, here’s an article about the study: http://newsok.com/ou-health-sciences-centers-special-skateboard-helps-researchers-study-babies-with-cerebral-palsy/article/3610368