Using music to help children with disabilities play
Canadian occupational therapy researchers¹ write about how children love to play, especially if the activity interests them, gives them pleasure and is spontaneous. They describe how children with physical disabilities may develop more passive personalities because their opportunities for play are limited and they do not learn that they can control the environment around them. Heidi Schwellnus with other occupational therapists and rehabilitation researchers at Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre in Toronto are working with a computer program that may help these children.
The Movement-to-Music (MTM) computer program translates movements into music. Using this technology, children with physical disabilities learn that they can impact their environment. Being successful in influencing what goes on around them will enhance their development of physical, cognitive and social skills and reduce their dependency upon others for play. The flexibility provided by the MTM system also allows occupational therapists to apply the technology to help children increase their range of motion, to learn about cause and effect, and as a leisure activity.
How does it work?
The MTM system captures the image of a child through a small, inexpensive camera attached to a computer. In response to the child’s movement, the program produces pleasing musical sounds. The real-time picture of the child is displayed on the computer screen. The MTM system detects a wide range of movements, from very small ones such as raising the eyebrows, to very large ones such as waving an arm. In terms of musical sounds, a digital music software engine has been constructed. It has two main features: the first plays a pre-selected piece of children’s music when the child moves; the second spontaneously generates new music, based on characteristics of the child’s movements.
MTM technology is a computer-based system that has the potential to provide affordable play activities for children with physical disabilities. The technology allows children to have independent and self-directed play activities with the music they create as an end product. This can be a very positive experience for these children because their limited physical abilities will not limit their creativity.
For more information, contact Andrea by email.
¹ Cheryl Missiuna and Nancy Pollock have written concerning play deprivation in children with physical disabilities and the ways in which occupational therapists can prevent secondary disability.
This article first appeared in the September/ October 2002 issue of Occupational Therapy Now magazine published by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. Reviewed July 2010.
- Occupational Therapy Services in...
- Shortcuts for...
- Quick Tips
- Technology for Living Well
- OT Outcomes
- Book Reviews
- Finding an occupational therapist
- Paying for occupational therapy services
- Real-life examples
- Children with DCD
- Occupational therapy in action
- Early identification of DCD
- OT in the workplace
- Return-to-work counselling
- Helping teachers stay in the classroom
- Back to work at the bank
- Tele-occupational Therapy
- Meeting childrenís health needs in rural Nova Scotia
- Tele-health Innovations
- Occupational therapy in Manitoba
- Using technology to enable occupation
- 007 Technology
- Using music to help children with disabilities Play
- Universal design and occupational therapy
- Zonta accessible playground
- Designing for a better world
- Improving access at Vancouverís largest hospital
- The importance of play for children
- Play and be healthy!
- Singing as therapy
- Overview of How OT Works