VCU researcher’s invention helping some babies explore their world

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a lab tucked away on the VCU campus, big steps forward are happening for some very special little ones.

“Kids with Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome or any neurologic disorder that would limit or inhibit their ability to learn to crawl,” explains Dr. Peter Pidcoe, a VCU Physical Therapy Associate Professor.

His SIPPC robot encourages babies to crawl.  Dr. Pidcoe has been working on it since 2003 at VCU along with researchers at the University of Oklahoma.

There are different models using different technology.  Moms and dads can even control one of them with an app.

“The orange one, if I hit reverse, is going to back up,” Dr. Pidcoe demonstrates.

He cites studies over the years linking crawling to better walking, cognitive and social skills.  He is already hearing from parents of children with developmental delays.

“When they can get this, how they can implement it, is there any way I can get one now for my child?”

SIPPC is not on the market yet, but this weekend it will be a part of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Innovation Festival at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.  SIPPC will be recognized for how it is helping kids making breakthroughs.

“You watch them light up,” Dr. Pidcoe says about the reaction each child has when using it for the first time and realizing their mobility.

As a physical therapist, engineer, father and grandfather, Dr. Pidcoe is excited about the potential for children..

“I hope this takes off,” he says.

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