Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries


How to design smart-toys to improve home-based therapies for children with Cerebral Palsy?


Paediatric occupational therapy and physiotherapy aim to enhance the overall quality of life for the child with cerebral palsy (and their family) by establishing adequate exercises that are to be performed daily at home. These therapies improve muscle mobility, preventing further spasticity of the hand. Current tools used in therapy, are expensive and complex which limits their availability to rehabilitation centres. More accessible tools such as the Oculus-Rift (virtual reality), Kinect and Wii focus primarily on gross motor skills, and traditional toys lack the ability to generate data that can be useful for therapy. Accordingly, the limitations of present therapies demonstrate a significant need for the development of novel approaches and treatments.

With this project we are interested in researching: 'How to design smart-toys to improve home-based therapies for children with Cerebral Palsy?'. This research project will be using a Research through Design (RtD) approach as proposed by Zimmerman et al. (Zimmerman, Forlizzi, & Evenson, 2007) for iterative creation of prototypes and knowledge generation as is standard in-game development. This research makes emphasis in the use of toys, which are more open-ended than most games that have predefined rules and outcomes but give more opportunity for imagination.

This research provides an important opportunity to advance the understanding of motivation and playfulness in therapy assisted by new technologies. This is a PhD project executed in collaboration with the ‘Digital Society School’, the ‘Civic Interaction Design’ research group as well as Digital Life at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the ‘University of Twente’ and ‘Roessingh Rehabilitation Centre’.


Published by  Centre for Applied Research FDMCI 6 March 2023

Project Info

Start date 01 Oct 2018
End date 31 Oct 2022