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The aim of the CareToy project is to exploit new ICT and mechatronic technologies to promote early intervention in the first year of life and to reinforce therapy initially performed in a high-competence medical institution by a portable low-cost instrumented setting tele-monitored by the medical centre, thus augmenting the medical effectiveness of the therapy while reducing the cost for the Healthcare Systems.
The development of an innovative smart system for rehabilitation of infants at home proposed here is based on smart tools, like toys, usable in natural settings, such as the infants’ home, in a non-invasive and transparent way, to stimulate, monitor and measure infants’ rehabilitation.

Another key element of the project is the modular approach: the system will be composed by several modules for performing different kinds of rehabilitation tasks. The idea is that families with infants who need rehabilitation can bring the CareToy system at home and let the infant perform specific tasks tailored on the infant’s needs. The system has a scenario-based design with the purpose to create a purposive setup for rehabilitation, aiming at establishing a semi-controlled scenarios in which the child can play. It is important to underline that each module composing the system can work independently or combined to the others.
More specifically, the objectives of the CareToy project are the measurements and stimulation of three main functions:

  • infants’ grasping forces,
  • infants’ gaze,
  • infants’ postural control,
  • and from these specifications three different modules will be developed:

  1. an instrumented little gym for infants (developed by integrating sensors, cameras and visual and auditory stimulations in a common baby gym structure) and mechatronic hanging toys, so that the infants’ actions on the gym can be monitored, measured, and stimulated,
  2. a vision module, for measuring and promoting infants’ attention and gaze movements, based on a gaze tracker integrated in the smart system,
  3. a sensorized mat for measuring and promoting infants’ postural control.

A fourth module completes the system the telerehabilitation module that lets the system remotely communicate with the rehabilitation staff for remote assessment of the rehabilitation techniques. Acquired signals will concern infants’ motor activity (body movements and manipulation) and infants’ visual capabilities. The system can be personalized, by adding/removing modules, according to the specific child and his/her specific rehabilitation needs. The protocol will regard different progressive tasks; when the infant performs a function-based task, the system analyses data and on the basis of results interpretation it communicates to the staff the score obtained by the infant in performing the task and the staff can remotely decide to move to the next progressive rehabilitation exercise.
The final objective, as already said, is to move the rehabilitation therapy outside rehabilitation centres with an increased involvement of infants’ families in the rehabilitation process. This method could help parents accept the difficult condition of their babies and make them feel motivated and involved in the therapy.

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