Pumper Car ride-on toy praised as therapeutic device for children with special needs
A University of Michigan institutional review board study has found that the Pumper Car, a popular ride-on toy, has significant physical therapeutic value for children with Down syndrome. This International Design Excellence Award winning toy is also known as the Power Pumper and is made by mobility device manufacturer Columbia-Inland Corp. Researchers Janet L. Hauck, PhD and Dale A. Ulrich, PhD published their findings online on June 26, 2015 in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. They noted that the Pumper Car, “…provides a practical method of promoting health-enhancing behaviors in young children with DS [Down syndrome] and should be considered for clinical application by service providers.”
What makes the Pumper Car especially appropriate for children with Down syndrome and those with other special needs is that it requires children to propel it with an upper and lower body pumping action, similar to using a rowing machine. The stable, four-wheel ride features multiple safety features not found on similar ride-on toys for children with special needs.
Children with Down syndrome typically resist physical exercise. However for these children in the study, the mean time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) increased from 7.8 minutes with the baseline equipment to 22.0 minutes using the Power Pumpers — an increase of 182%. “The increase seen in MVPA from baseline to the Power Pumper sessions is striking,” according to the researchers.
“I had no idea that the toy I designed for fun exercise could be so beneficial for children with Down syndrome,” says inventor Mike Jones. “We discovered that a large number of our buyers were children’s hospitals and parents of children with special needs. It’s such an honor to see that the study supports the type of stories we’ve been hearing from our customers.”
Jones’ company has received scores of letters from doctors, physical therapists, teachers and parents about how their Pumper Cars were transformational for children with special needs. They cite benefits such as increasing children’s muscle strength, endurance, extremity development, balance and motor coordination — even appearing to increase verbal communication for some children with autism. Evidence shows that the applications extend beyond Down syndrome to include rehabilitation and therapy for children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, brain injury, pain disorders, generalized weaknesses and child obesity.
Columbia-Inland Corp. designs and manufactures high-quality mobility products for children. They are passionate advocates for children getting more exercise. Pumper Cars are sold directly from the company and through Amazon.com.