Grant to Help Students Adapt Toy Cars for Disabled Kids; UNF Physical Therapy, Engineering Students Pair with Kids for Project

By Harrell, Saphara | The Florida Times Union, April 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

Grant to Help Students Adapt Toy Cars for Disabled Kids; UNF Physical Therapy, Engineering Students Pair with Kids for Project


Harrell, Saphara, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Saphara Harrell

Professors at the University of North Florida are able to move forward with the development of a project in which students make toys for disabled children, thanks to a more than $85,000 grant from the National Institute of Health.

The Adaptive Toy Project pairs engineering and physical therapy students together in an elective class, making battery-powered toy cars that fit each child's needs.

The kids have disabilities such as cerebral palsy, visual impairment and genetic disorders that require each to have their own uniquely designed car.

"Every single toy has to be different, has to be custom made for the kid," said Juan Aceros, UNF assistant professor of engineering.

Aceros said groups of graduate physical therapists and undergraduate mechanical and electrical engineers are assigned a child and have to do an assessment before they start building the car. He said the designs are adaptive.

"They see disabilities like they can't use their left hand, so we move it [joystick] to their right hand," Aceros said.

Assistant professor of physical therapy Mary Lundy said the project arose from a lack of toys for kids with disabilities.

"The idea for the project came from some of our physical therapy graduate students working in the field who recognized that young children with disabilities needed more opportunities for play during the critical years of cognitive development, as well as greater access to adaptive toys, which are expensive and often hard to find," Lundy said in a prepared statement. …

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