CPToys: Skill development is child’s play

CPToys: Skill development is child’s play
Posted on Mon 6 Jul 2020

As Einstein famously said, “Play is the highest form of research”. Play is how children learn and develop. For children with cerebral palsy (CP), play is particularly important in skill development, and different forms of play help target different skills.Associate Professor Brian Hoare (School of Occupational Therapy, La Trobe University.

Associate Professor Brian Hoare (School of Occupational Therapy, La Trobe University)  launched CPToys to help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice, improving outcomes for children with CP through play-based therapy. Here he explains how CPToys works, what has been improved in the recent launch of ‘CPToys 2.0’, and what other exciting changes are on the horizon.

After many years in research, A/Prof. Hoare saw a gap in therapy for CP. Therapists and parents needed a way to translate the goals of therapy into evidence-based activities that children would be happy to do every day. Therapy needed to take place as early as possible and to be intensive, but fun. He recognised that appropriate toys were critical, but also that effective therapy is much more than simply playing with toys.

“In order to acquire new skills, toys must be carefully matched to a child’s goals and age, says A/Prof. Hoare. “They should be motivating and fun to provide opportunities for repetitive practice and learning. This is how the brain rewires itself, leading to lifelong improvements in function.”

And this is where CPToys comes in.

“Integrating 20 years of clinical and research knowledge with technology, CPToys is a clinical tool that makes therapy a more individualised and effective process for therapists and families by using technology to match toys to a child’s goals.”


Helping therapists and families work together

Since its launch, CPToys has been adopted by many therapists across the country, including therapists at CPA. One such therapist is Jane Berry (Consultant for Occupational Therapy, Practice Leadership and Clinical Governance, CPA), who says: “Our experience of using CPToys is an extremely positive one.”

“CPToys helps us translate research into everyday skills and life. One of the most important things when providing therapy for children with cerebral palsy is to have well formulated goals. When using CPToys, developing goals is one of the first things you have to do, so it makes that part of therapy clear and easy. We can then work with families to understand what toys and activities are going to be helpful during therapy and toys can be easily matched to the goals that we are working on.

“CPToys has become an integral and necessary part of our service delivery when working on upper limb interventions with children with CP.”


Version 2.0

The initial version of CPToys was launched in 2014, and it has seen over 5,000 users. However, as technology evolves A/Prof. Hoare has seen an opportunity to make CPToys even better.

In 2020, CPToys has been accepted into the Remarkable Tech Accelerator Program, which has provided an opportunity to further develop CPToys to become more sustainable and responsive to current and future needs of both families and therapists.

“CPToys version 2.0 is now available on all devices, allowing much greater access, and therapists and families are now able to directly source and purchase toys via the CPToys portal,” says A/Prof. Hoare.

Jane Berry agrees that adding the ability to purchase the toys via the portal has made the process even easier.

But why stop there?

“We want to continue to maximise the impact of CPToys on therapy outcomes for children with CP,” A/Prof. Hoare says. “For therapists, this means embedding digital media within CPToys to provide education about best practice therapies. For parents, this means integrating CPToySwap into the existing CPToys platform, allowing families to swap or gift vital therapy toys to other families of children with CP”.

Therapists and families of children with CP eagerly await these further developments.


Visit CPToys for more information.

If you have any questions about CPA’s occupational therapy services, call 1300 888 378 or email ask@cerebralpalsy.org.au

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