Toys for Kids with Cerebral Palsy | Smart Kids
Jul 25, 2018
Toys for Kids with Cerebral Palsy | Smart Kids

How To Turn a Toy into a Therapy Experience for Kids with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder occurring during brain development that is characterized by abnormalities in body movement and muscle coordination. While cerebral palsy is not life threatening, it can present unique challenges and require significant therapeutic interventions throughout the lifespan.

Typically when a therapist treats a child with CP, programming consists of stretching, strengthening, positioning, splinting, compensatory training or a combination of those interventions. As any therapist can tell you, achieving and maintaining results requires constant repetition and focus.

But simple task repetition can become monotonous and anyone with a child knows that maintaining focus is not always easy, particularly for the modern child who has a multitude of more enticing interactive games at their fingertips. So how can we motivate kiddos to stay invested in therapeutic exercises?

toys for kids with celebral palsy

Virtual reality(VR) based rehabilitation technology like Smart Kids by Neofect bridges the gap; connecting neuroscience, gamification and traditional therapeutic insight to create an enticing toy that kids actually want to keep playing. Smart Kids is a perfect toy for kids with celebral palsy.

But what is the Science saying about toys for kids with celebral palsy?

Recent studies using commercially available VR products like the Smart Kids as a supplement to traditional approaches for children with CP have reported statistically significant improvements in:

*Cortical reorganisation: Brain changes! Targeted, sustained interaction between the brain and the nerves of the isolated muscle systems has been shown to create neuroplastic changes in the central and peripheral nervous systems particularly in cortical areas related to motor learning and control. [3].[2].[4, 5]

*Motor control: Use it or lose it!
Repetition of muscle use over time leads to improved strength, manual dexterity, motor planning skills as well as increased ability to generalize this strength increase into use of the arm during daily tasks [1]. [6].

*Motivation and confidence: I’m winning!
When abilities are challenged appropriately kids can become motivated to keep playing in order to achieve game goals[8, 9]. Through the achievement of small wins in the game, kids are secretly performing prescribed exercises while building the confidence needed to attempt novel tasks outside of the VR experience.


*Compliance: Time flies when you’re having fun!
VR use can increase home exercise compliance levels in children who feel like they are gaming and not exercising which enhances conventional physiotherapy effectiveness[7].

*Cognition: Get your head in the game! Improved concentration and levels of participation have been reported when using VR intervention[11]. The games provide feedback which enables kids to improve their performance while giving them a measurable sense of achievement[12] through persistence and control over their actions.


Smart Kids is an effective and entertaining rehabilitation solution for kids with celebral palsy. To hear from one of our Smart Kids users, her family and physician, check out Ilana’s Story. For a trial or to find out more about whether the RAPAEL Smart Kids is a good fit for your child’s rehabilitation needs, email us at or call us at 888-623-8984.

*RAPAEL Home Inquiry:
-Phone: (888) 623-8984

  1. Luna-Oliva, L., et al., Kinect Xbox 360 as a therapeutic modality for children with cerebral palsy in a school environment: a preliminary study. Neurorehabilitation, 2013. 33(4): p. 513-21.
  2. Snider, L., A. Majnemer, and V. Darsaklis, Virtual reality as a therapeutic modality for children with cerebral palsy. Developmental neurorehabilitation, 2010. 13(2): p. 120-8.
  3. Riener, R. and M. Harders, Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation, in Virtual Reality in Medicine. 2012, Springer. p. 161-180.
  4. You, S.H., et al., Cortical reorganization induced by virtual reality therapy in a child with hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 2005. 47(9): p. 628-35.
  5. Huang, H.-h., et al., Bound for success: a systematic review of constraint-induced movement therapy in children with cerebral palsy supports improved arm and hand use. Physical Therapy, 2009. 89(11): p. 1126-1141.
  6. Winkels, D.G., et al., Wii-habilitation of upper extremity function in children with cerebral palsy. An explorative study. Developmental neurorehabilitation, 2013. 16(1): p. 44-51.
  7. Bryanton, C., et al., Feasibility, motivation, and selective motor control: virtual reality compared to conventional home exercise in children with cerebral palsy. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 2006. 9(2): p. 123-8.
  8. Harris, K. and D. Reid, The influence of virtual reality play on children's motivation. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy - Revue Canadienne d Ergotherapie, 2005. 72(1): p. 21-9.
  9. Meyer-Heim, A. and H.J.H. van, Robot-assisted and computer-enhanced therapies for children with cerebral palsy: current state and clinical implementation. Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, 2013. 20(2): p. 139-45.
  10. Weiss, P.L., P. Bialik, and R. Kizony, Virtual reality provides leisure time opportunities for young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 2003. 6(3): p. 335-42.
  11. Lewis, G.N. and J.A. Rosie, Virtual reality games for movement rehabilitation in neurological conditions: how do we meet the needs and expectations of the users? Disability and rehabilitation, 2012. 34(22): p. 1880-1886.
  12. Sveistrup, H., et al., Outcomes of intervention programs using flatscreen virtual reality. Conference Proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society, 2004. 7: p. 4856-8.
Siena Conde
Clinical Manager / Occupational Therapist

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