How to open up a child’s world using assistive devices

3 minute(s) to read

The first three years of life are an incredibly important window to make sure children with disabilities receive the right support to reach their full potential.

Learning to sit, stand, walk, grasp objects, play, feed and interact socially can be supported by parents and Therapists using assistive devices to encourage physical and cognitive development.

That’s why Cubro is hosting a webinar on Wednesday 14th February about the importance of early intervention. Etac® Product Manager Stine Østergaard Kyed is a qualified Physiotherapist who has worked alongside children with disabilities for many years. Stine will present this webinar and share her insights about young children who have a disability or are thought to be at high risk.

           Stine Østergaard Kyed 

“Early intervention is important because we want to take advantage of the time where the neuroplasticity is more pronounced or is easiest to take advantage of,” Stine explains. “The risk of not having early intervention is that you miss out on taking advantage of the time where the brain learns the easiest by just ‘’waiting and seeing’ if the child will achieve the expected milestones.”

Stine will highlight what assistive devices are available for seating, standing, walking, toileting and bathing the youngest children (under three years).

“For children with disabilities, assistive devices in general give them the opportunity to participate in their everyday life. They can play with toys, interact with parents, siblings, and peers, seek out the things they want and walk away from the things they don’t want, with the use of different kinds of assistive devices.”

Stine says Etac’s newest product is a seating system for children with disabilities as young as six months old. “At this age, many typically developing children will achieve the motor milestones of independent sitting. With this seating system children with disabilities are given the opportunity to be seated even though they haven’t reached this motor milestone. They can start practicing eating solid food, be a part of the family meal, play with new kinds of toys and get new perspectives on their surroundings.”

The webinar will focus on why early intervention is important based on current clinical research before looking at what paediatric solutions are available in New Zealand through Cubro.

“The scientific research I will be discussing will mostly be referring to children with Cerebral Palsy or children at high risk of Cerebral Palsy. But this doesn’t mean that some of the principles we’ll be discussing can’t be used for children with other types of disabilities or developmental delays,” she says.

The World Health Organization says by enabling communication, mobility and self-care, assistive devices enable children to explore the worlds of family relationships, friendships, education, play, and household tasks. “When used properly, these products greatly enhance children’s quality of life and that of their families,” WHO says in a 2022 report.

Stine points out that children with disabilities are at risk of spending more time in sedentary positions than their typically developing peers. So using appropriate seating, walkers, gait trainers, wheelchairs and strollers will help them improve their motor skills, social skills and cognitive development.

“Assistive devices that enable a child to maintain a standing position will let the child apply different loads on their bones, joints and muscles. This will make it possible to develop new skills and prevent secondary consequences of the child’s health condition.”

Prior to working at Etac, Stine worked in both a school and a kindergarten for children with disabilities. “My job was to make sure that the children practiced their gross motor skills through different activities that were fun for the child to participate in. I have also volunteered as a soccer coach for children with Cerebral Palsy which have given me many wonderful experiences.”

Mark your calendars for this informative webinar on Wednesday 14th February at 8am, secure your spot here.