The next generation of play: Robots to support play in rehabilitation and special education for children with physical disabilities

Renée Johanna Franciscus van den Heuvel

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisExternal prepared

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Free play is crucial to a child’s development. However, children with severe physical impairments may encounter problems when playing. They may have difficulty holding or handling toys, and access to play areas may be limited. In addition, they often need help playing. As a result, these children may not or only partially be able to participate in play activities. New technological and ICT developments provide this target group with new ways to play.
This study examined the user-friendliness, feasibility and usefulness of robots for children with severe physical impairments. Robots are shown to have a great ability to support these children in playing and achieving goals. It is also shown that children hugely enjoy playing and ‘working’ with robots. Based on their training and background, healthcare professionals are often insufficiently prepared to work with robots, though. In general, they enjoy working with robots and appreciate the added value for children. It is therefore recommended that they are offered support in terms of instructions and training. Care robots will never be able to replace healthcare professionals. However, they provide good support and make healthcare more enjoyable, better and more efficient.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • de Witte, Lucas, Supervisor
  • Lexis, Monique A. S., Co-Supervisor, External person
  • Gelderblom, G.J., Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date4 Jul 2018
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789461598110
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • robots
  • children
  • play
  • physical impairment

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