Motor deficits are linked to a range of negative physical, social and academic consequences. Haptic robotic interventions, based on the principles of sensorimotor learning, have been shown previously to help children with motor problems learn new movements. We therefore examined whether the training benefits of a robotic system would generalise to a standardised test of 'pen-skills', assessed using objective kinematic measures [via the Clinical Kinematic Assessment Tool, CKAT]. A counterbalanced, cross-over design was used in a group of 51 children (37 male, aged 5-11 years) with manual control difficulties. Improved performance on a novel task using the robotic device could be attributed to the intervention but there was no evidence of generalisation to any of the CKAT tasks. The robotic system appears to have the potential to support motor learning, with the technology affording numerous advantages. However, the training regime may need to target particular manual skills (e.g. letter formation) in order to obtain clinically significant improvements in specific skills such as handwriting.
Shire, K. A., Hill, L. J. B., Snapp-Childs, W., Bingham, G. P., Kountouriotis, G. K., Barber, S., & Mon-Williams, M. (2016). Robot guided “pen skill” training in children with motor difficulties. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151354