Supporting ambulation in persons with intellectual and multiple disabilities: an overview of technology-aided intervention programs

Giulio E. Lancioni *, Nirbhay N. Singh **, Mark F. O’Reilly ***, Jeff Sigafoos ****, Gloria Alberti ***** and Francesca Campodonico *****

(*) University of Bari, Italy
(**) Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, GA, USA
(***) University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA
(****) Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
(*****) Lega F. D’Oro Research Center, Osimo, Italy

Ambulation is a critical skill that does not necessarily develop and/or satisfactorily occur in many persons with intellectual and multiple disabilities. This paper is an overview of four different types of technology-aided programs, which were investigated as ways to improve and/or support ambulation in those persons. Specifically, the paper focuses on: (1) partial body weight-supported treadmill programs, (2) robot-aided programs, (3) microswitch- and walker-aided programs, and (4) cued-orientation programs. Initially, the paper provides a brief description of each of the aforementioned types of programs and illustrates the programs’ applicability and potential through a summary of two selected studies. Subsequently, in light of the studies summarized and of the literature in the area, the paper (a) discusses strengths and limitations of the different programs and their implications for daily contexts, and (b) examines new questions for future research.

Keywords: Ambulation, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, technology- aided programs