Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robotic therapy aids kids' handwriting skills

Date:
September 5, 2013
Source:
British Psychological Society (BPS)
Summary:
Researchers are working to develop an exciting new robotic device that helps children to practice and improve their hand coordination.

Researchers from Leeds and Bradford are working with colleagues from the United States to develop an exciting new robotic device that helps children to practice and improve their manual (hand) coordination.

Related Articles


The findings of a pilot study are being presented today at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Reading, detailing the first time this innovative new technology has been trialled in a UK school.

The collaboration involves Professor Mark Mon-Williams, Dr. Liam Hill from the University of Leeds, Katy Shires from the Bradford Institute of Health Research and Professor Geoffrey Bingham's lab from the University of Indiana (USA). This team has been working on creating a haptic robotic training system that gives children feedback and scaffolds their performance as they practice hand and wrist movements commonly made during handwriting and other manual tasks.

The device has already been tested in a study in the United States, results showing that the increased feedback it provides particularly aids children who have underlying movement problems, providing them with the extra support they need whilst trying to learn everyday tasks they typically have great difficulty with (e.g. handwriting, using cutlery and dressing themselves).

How does it work?

A child holds a pen connected to the cradle of a small robotic arm. They then move the pen around in order to play 'computer games' presented on the screen of the computer. The games the children play require them to practice hand and wrist movements commonly made during handwriting (and other manual tasks). As the child plays the games the robot's arm (purple arrow) helps them learn the correct movements by pushing and pulling the pen in the direction required to make the right moves. The strength to which the arm pushes/pulls towards the correct movement can be varied so that as the child becomes more confident the arm can reduce its level of support, allowing the child to increasingly do the task on their own.

What are we doing?

Recently we have just completed the first UK pilot study using this robotic device, demonstrating its feasibility for use (i) in the classroom and (ii) with children of a younger age than previously studied. Working with a small number of five to seven year old children in a primary school in Bradford, who had a wide range of manual abilities, we investigated their level of motivation and enjoyment whilst practicing for 20 minutes on a variety of robotic arm tasks presented previously in US-based studies using the system. We also trialed simpler versions of these tasks, which were expected to be more age appropriate for the younger children we were working with.

All the children found the tasks highly enjoyable and were able to perform them to an acceptable level. Differences in performance between children previously identified by their classroom teachers as having handwriting difficulties were also noticeable (e.g. taking longer to complete, making more errors if the level of support the robotic arm provided was reduced). Plans are now underway to run a larger intervention study within schools in Bradford that will formally investigate whether the findings from the US can be replicated in younger school children here in the UK (i.e. will the system help them improve their handwriting and manual-dexterity development?).

Dr Hill said: "In trying to support a child with handwriting and coordination difficulties one of the major challenges teachers and occupational therapists come up against time and again is the limited time they have to work one-to-one with each child. In this respect haptic robotic technologies have huge potential efficiency benefits. They provide a means by which children can receive supported practice, at a level which adjusts to their growing abilities, without the need for one-to-one interaction with a therapist. Banks of these systems could be used simultaneously by multiple children in a clinic or in the classroom setting, under the supervision of a single overseeing professional."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Psychological Society (BPS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Psychological Society (BPS). "Robotic therapy aids kids' handwriting skills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905085743.htm>.
British Psychological Society (BPS). (2013, September 5). Robotic therapy aids kids' handwriting skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905085743.htm
British Psychological Society (BPS). "Robotic therapy aids kids' handwriting skills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905085743.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins