SAU students adapt cars for children with disabilities

Anne Marie Amacher
Jim Black, director of business development with Numotion, works with St. Ambrose students, from left, Andrea Adam, Jordan Pulliam and Brianna Bosco. Numotion worked with physical and occupational therapy students to adapt battery cars for children with a variety of disabilities.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Adapting battery-operated children’s cars so that children with a variety of disabilities can have some independence is the goal of Numotion. The company teamed up with the occupational therapy and physical therapy departments at St. Ambrose University on June 18 to adapt the cars for five families in the Quad-City area.

Angie McCombs, clinical associate professor and outreach coordinator for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at St. Ambrose, said a doctoral student’s desire to learn more about options for individuals with early mobility issues led her to seek answers. McCombs learned about GoBabyGo!, a nonprofit research program that works on wheelchair alternatives for children who cannot walk or need assistance. Numotion teamed up with GoBabyGo! to put children with mobility challenges in the driver’s seat.

St. Ambrose University graduates helped find families that could benefit from the battery-operated cars. Five families were chosen for the first-time event. On June 18, St. Ambrose students and clinicians spent the afternoon modifying the battery-operated cars for each youngster ranging in age from 2 to 5 years old.


Numotion representatives provided assistance and directions and brought all the equipment needed, including the cars. McCombs said Numotion donated everything needed for this first-time venture. “I would love to see this continue.”

Numotion sales director Eric Enderton showed the students and clinicians how to finish wiring the cars so that the children could push a big, red button on the steering wheel to go forward. Most of the wiring was done ahead. Cars were customized for each child. Velcro or other materials were available to help secure a child who needed more than a seat belt to sit up straight.

Enderton and other Numotion representatives offered advice on making adjustments. Each team had about two hours to complete the adjustments before the families arrived to pick up the cars. Final adjustments for safety purposes were made when each child was inside his or her car.

Sarah Jacoby, regional vice president for Numotion in Iowa and Missouri said, “This is one of our favorite activities.” They have been working on the cars for about eight years. “This enables the children and families to be independent in a fun way,” she said. “We are here to serve and take care of people. It’s our passion to help folks with a disability.”

Jim Black, director of business development, made his rounds around the room to guide and help each team. “This is fun stuff.”

Jordan Pulliam, a student in the St. Ambrose physical therapy department and students Andrea Adam and Brianna Bosco in the occupational therapy department, enjoyed fitting a red Mustang. It was more challenging than they expected, so they worked with Numotion and other students to develop solutions to customize the car for the child. “It is exciting to see the end result,” said Pulliam.

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