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Powered mobility training in young children with cerebral palsy

At a glance

  • Project leader : Prof. Dr. Brigitte Gantschnig
  • Project team : André Meichtry
  • Project status : completed
  • Funding partner : Foundation (Stiftung für Abendländische Ethik und Kultur STAB, Schweizerische Stiftung für das cerebral gelähmte Kind, Stiftung für Ergotherapie Zürich, Ebnet-Stiftung)
  • Contact person : Brigitte Gantschnig



Children with disability (e.g., cerebral palsy) have problems in body functions and structures which often impact their mobility and participation in different areas of life (e.g., school). Earlier studies showed that enabling mobility of children with disability due to powered mobility facilitate their development, independence and self-esteem.  However, powered mobility training with small children is not well known or established.


The aim of this case study was to investigate if and how powered mobility training had an effect on children with cerebral palsy’s (CP) driving distance, learning to use a powered wheelchair, quality of task performance, and quality of social interaction.


The method employed was a single-case study with a time series design (A-A-B-A-B). In control phases A, the participants were their own controls. In intervention phases B, powered mobility training was implemented in weekly 45-60 minute sessions over the course of 3 months. The outcome was measured with mobility in meters/session, the Assessment of Learning Powered Mobility Use (ALP), Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS), Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI), and Evaluation of Social Interaction (ESI).  

Using data gathered from two children with CP (2.3-4.0 years), the results revealed clinically meaningful intervention effects measured with the ALP, AMPS, ESI, partly clinically meaningful effects measured with the scaled values of the PEDI, and no clinically meaningful effects measured with the t-values of the PEDI.
Interpretation. Powered mobility training has an effect on children’s mobility, on their levels of learning, their quality of social interaction and ADL task performance. It is important to use multiple measures to assess different effects of the intervention.

Project Partner:

  • Susanne Rönnfeld, MSc Neuroorthopädics (Eastern Swiss Childrens Hospital, Centre of Neurology, Development and Rehabilitation – KER-centre, St. Gallen, Switzerland) and

  • Lisbeth Nilsson PhD (independent researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Health Science, Research Group Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science, Lund University, Sweden)

Further information