Go Baby Go!

Madalynn Wendland

Madalynn Wendland

Focus Area: 
Health
Location: 
The Greater Cleveland Area
Community Partner: 
Children's Museum of Cleveland
Academic Department: 
Physical Therapy
Collaborate
Purpose: 

Cleveland State University was recently named the study site and a major hub for Go Baby Go!, a national movement to promote mobility across the lifespan.

Through a unique multidisciplinary process housed in CSU’s new Center for Innovation in Medical Professions, CSU’s Madalynn Wendland, PT, DPT a third year clinical assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, and research/project manager, Andrina Sabet, PT will join collaborators around the world. Together, they will research and develop low-cost, high-impact technologies ranging from modified racecars for infants to hands-free harness systems that can provide stability during standing and walking activities for children and adults with mobility impairments.

Through funds provided by the Office of Civic Engagement, over 60 CSU faculty, staff and community volunteers gathered on October 24 to adapt battery-powered toy cars through a series of low-cost electrical switches and mechanical modifications so they can be operated by infants as young as 7 months old. This workshop provided modified racecars to five local children who have varying physical disabilities that result in an inability to walk independently. Two additional racecars were modified to use as part of an informal service-learning project for physical therapy and speech language pathology graduate students initiated by Wendland in collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

“Children who are able to use these modified racecars will see benefits in their motor abilities. Research also shows that independent mobility positively impacts cognitive, language and social-emotional development, particularly from birth to 5 years of age,” said Wendland.

Moreover, low-cost, peer accepted, assistive technologies that support re-entry or rehabilitation by placing individuals back into their community alongside peers have proven to enhance quality-of-life, normalize family dynamics and build vocational skills.

Outcomes: 

By using modified racecars, children can defy the confines of limited mobility.  

“By allowing more independent exploration [through use of the modified racecar], children with mobility limitations can learn while playing,” Wendland said. 

In addition, use of modified racecars and hands-free harness systems have been integrated into Sensory Friendly Times at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland. This helps to fill a gap for enrichment activities and social experiences among children with any mobility impairment outside of home or school. 

Benefit to Community: 

Go Baby Go! is aimed at making children with limited mobility more independent. Multidisciplinary in nature, projects within Go Baby Go! at CSU will facilitate interprofessional collaboration within the academic institution as well as foster academic/industry collaborations that are critical to sustained commercial and community impact.

Collaborative projects have the potential to include faculty and students in health professions (physical, occupational, speech therapy and physician programs), engineering, business and law school. Wendland explained that Go Baby Go! also helps fulfill a need for students to observe and participate in activities geared towards the pediatric population. Current Go Baby Go! projects give students and community members within Northeast Ohio an opportunity to see first hand the impact that low-cost, high-impact technology can have on children and adults with mobility impairments.

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Partnership Contact

Madalynn Wendland
Madalynn Wendland, DPT is an assistant professor of Physical Therapy in the College of Sciences and Health Professions.

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