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Claire Smart posing in front of signage at the Reimagine conference
December 5, 2023

CPA physiotherapist shines at Reimagine Australia conference

Our very own Claire Smart, a physiotherapist from Canberra, presented on a groundbreaking project Tech Toys: Accessible TechToys for infants with significant motor and physical needs, at this year’s Reimagine Australia conference. Reimagine Australia, formerly known as Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA), has led the sector for over 35 years in embedding best practices and the design of inclusive systems. 

Claire is a fellow working on the TechToys project through the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute’s Staff Research Participation Model that provides unique opportunities for clinicians to build research skills, train and receive peer mentoring from clinician-researchers from our global award-winning research team. 

Claire’s workshop highlighted the importance of play in early childhood development and how it addresses physical, mental, and emotional development. While toys traditionally provide a safe space for children to explore and interact with the world, those with neuromotor disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, often face limitations in manipulating and engaging with conventional toys.  

The project bridges this gap by developing safe, accessible, and playful toys tailored for children with disabilities. 

“I was grateful for the opportunity to share a video featuring a parent discussing her daughter’s toy experiences. We work closely with families and this firsthand account added a personal touch, showing the real impact of inclusive toy design on the lives of children with motor disabilities,” said Claire.  

The TechToys study, led by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute Technology team, sheds light on the lack of commercially available toys adapted for children with motor impairments, leaving them as spectators rather than active participants in play.  

The project addresses this gap and has been co-designed through collaboration with a parent of a child with cerebral palsy and a team of biomedical engineering students, therapists, and researchers under the guidance of Dr. Petra Karlsson and Professor Alistair McEwan at the University of Sydney. 

During the conference, Claire conducted a workshop on the Accessible Tech Toys research project. The workshop not only provided insights into research and development priorities but also demonstrated how therapists can measure the impact of toy selection on the playfulness and engagement of children with severe motor impairments.  

“It was great to be able to hear from and engage with other therapists and researchers in their current priorities in this field. The conference provided key learnings in best practice early childhood intervention, opportunities for rural telehealth outreach and therapy goal setting based on meaningful life situations for infants and toddlers”, said Claire. 

Claire Smart’s presentation and workshop showcased the power of innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity in shaping the future of early childhood intervention, with a specific focus on empowering children with motor disabilities through accessible and engaging tech toys. 

Find out more about the TechToys project: https://cerebralpalsy.org.au/news-stories/tech-toys-accessible-techtoys-for-infants-with-significant-motor-and-physical-needs/#  

Claire Smart smiling for a photo before her presentation at Reimagine conference