Occupational Therapy Faculty Researches, Tests Mobility Device for Infants

Dr. Teresa Plummer, PhD, OTR/L, ATP, CEAS, CAPS and associate professor of occupational therapy, has spent the past 10 years modifying ride-on toys for children who have limited access to their environment, as no such device yet existed for children under six years of age. Plummer involved students, alumni and faculty of the Occupational Therapy Department with opportunities to join this endeavor and has been instrumental in the teaching and conducting modifications for more than 260 families at no cost to them.

Dr. Plummer consulted with Permobil, Inc., a global leader in advanced medical technology, to research and test a device for infants called the Explorer Mini. Permobil develops, manufactures and markets wheelchairs, seating, positioning and communication systems for people with disabilities. The company issued an expression of gratitude that stated, “The contribution by Dr. Plummer into the validation of the Explorer Mini was significant and highly appreciated by us, but ever more by all generations of children to come.”

As the lead principal investigator for the Human Factors Validation Study, Dr. Plummer worked with two other university professors in the U.S. The studies represent the largest number of participants and the youngest children ever to be tested in a power mobility device. In the testing, 33 infants ages 6 months to 3 years participated. The study supported literature establishing theoretical rationale for the Explorer Mini and was also used to support Permobil in attaining clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, received on February 27, 2020.

Dr. Plummer presented the study’s findings at the International Seating Symposium in Vancouver, Canada, in early March. Belmont occupational therapy students created a teaching protocol guide as part of their capstone work.