ZORA Robot Based Interventions to Achieve Therapeutic and Educational Goals in Children with Severe Physical Disabilities

Renee J. F. van den Heuvel*, Monique A. S. Lexis, Luc P. de Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aimed (1) to examine the contribution of robot ZORA in achieving therapeutic and educational goals in rehabilitation and special education for children with severe physical disabilities, and (2) to discover the roles professionals attribute to robot ZORA when it is used in robot-based play interventions in rehabilitation and special education for children with severe physical disabilities. A multi-centre mixed methods study was conducted among children with severe physical disabilities in two centres for rehabilitation and one school for special education. The participating children played with robot ZORA six times during a period of 6 weeks, in individual or group sessions. Quantitative data were gathered about the contribution of ZORA in reaching individual goals for all of the participating children, using the Individually Prioritized Problem Assessment (IPPA). Playfulness was measured with a visual analogue scale (0-10) and children could indicate whether they liked the sessions using a scale consisting of smileys. Video-stimulated recall interviews were used to collect qualitative data about the different roles of ZORA. In total, 33 children and 12 professionals participated in the study. The results of the IPPA showed a significant contribution of ZORA to the achievement of (children's) individual goals. The data gathered using the IPPA during the ZORA-based interventions showed that the largest contributions of robot ZORA lie in the domains of movement skills and communication skills. Playfulness of the sessions was 7.5 on average and 93% of the sessions were evaluated as 'enjoyable' by the children. Overall, ZORA could positively contribute to the achievement of individual goals for children with severe physical disabilities. According to the participating professionals the most promising roles in which robot ZORA can be used are motivator, rewarder or instructor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-504
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Robot
  • Effects
  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Children
  • Physical disabilities
  • CARE

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