Medical students at the Texas A&M University School of Engineering Medicine have partnered with GoBabyGo, an organization created by Cole Galloway at the University of Delaware in 2007, to offer independent mobility to children with motor and cognitive delays. GoBabyGo cars offer mobility in an enjoyable way for children to continue working on therapeutic goals and keep up with their peers.
The EnMed students, along with students from Texas Woman’s University, hosted GoBabyGo, to customize and modify off-the-shelf ride-on toy cars for delivery to local families at no cost. The students were able to produce the electronic cars in the EnMed Innovation Center on the first floor of the EnMed building in Houston on Saturday, March 26.
In the United States, more than 1.5 million children experience congenital difficulties with mobility. The cost of medical devices to assist children in achieving mobility is astronomical and difficult for families to afford. Cost is a significant barrier to purchasing the mobility devices children need to assist in achieving their therapeutic goals.
To begin, EnMed students evaluated every child receiving a device and worked with their families to custom design the vehicles to meet the specific physical needs of the child. “With access to age-appropriate toy cars, and the ability to move, GoBabyGo is enabling children of all abilities to embrace their childhood,” said Ramya Varadarajan, a second-year medical student and co-chair of EnMed’s first “build day.”
Mobility is key for appropriate child development. In the early years of life, children develop physically, emotionally and socially through play and exploration of their environment. Unfortunately, children with mobility difficulties may not develop these realms in the same way as their peers who are able to fully explore their surroundings.
For typical children, independent mobility begins with rolling, transitions to crawling and culminates with walking. For children with mobility-limiting conditions, independent and volitional environmental exploration may be hard or impossible. That’s where the GoBabyGo speeds into action.
“In keeping with the overarching mission, I love the opportunity to plan such an inspirational event that will really help kids in our community to have more mobility, keep up with their peers and reach places that they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise,” explained Kevin Birdsall, a second-year EnMed student and co-chair of EnMed’s GoBabyGo initiative. “Otherwise, as a future physicianeer, the experience will definitely be something that I will talk about for years to come,” Birdsall explained.