The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life for people living with paralysis, has announced the creation of Adaptoys – adapted versions of popular toys that allow people with physical disabilities to experience the joy of actively playing with their families.
“Technology has been such a powerful force for individuals with disabilities. However, there is a void when it comes to technology and accessible toys,” said Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “Adaptoys will help eliminate inequality by reimagining playtime for parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles or aunts who are living with paralysis.”
Play is a universal connector—it improves quality of life, connects people emotionally and wards off stress and depression. But for the one in 50 people who face some form of paralysis, these experiences are difficult, if not impossible, and that inability to fully interact and play with their family can be a challenging barrier. Adaptoys is bringing the power of play to the 5.6 million Americans living with paralysis by equipping toys with voice activation, motion sensors and sipand-puff (SNP) assistive technology.
Advertising agency 360i partnered with technology company Axios to create the initial Adaptoys prototypes. A remote control car is powered by a headset equipped with a straw, into which users can exhale to cause the car to accelerate, or inhale to reverse. Motion sensors on the headset steer the car left or right based on the user’s head movement. And a voice-controlled pitching machine throws a ball on the user’s command, tossing pop-ups, groundballs and strikes.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, in partnership with 360i, has launched a crowdfunding campaign at Adaptoys.org to raise funds to support the research, development and cover production costs for at least 100 adapted remote control cars, which will be distributed to qualified recipients through a random lottery selection. The more successful the crowdfunding effort, the more toys will be produced and families will be reached.
Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down during a highly publicized game in 2010, illustrates the impact these toys can have for individuals living with paralysis in a compelling film (Password: Adaptoys!Reeve) as he plays with his young nephews. “I have never let paralysis slow me down. However, I look at my nephews and it can be frustrating when they want to play ball and I can’t join the fun,” said Eric LeGrand. “With Adaptoys, I can fully participate with my family and create new memories with my nephews so that they never feel as though their ‘Uncle E’ is sidelined at playtime.” •
For more information and to help bring Adaptoys to life for more families, visit adaptoys.org