E. Bolster1, C. van Gessel2, M. Welten3, S. Hermsen4, R. van der Lugt2, E. Kotte5, A. van Essen2, M. Bloemen1
1HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Researchgroup Lifestyle and Health, Intitute of Human Movement Studies, Utrecht, Netherlands, 2HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Co-Design, Utrecht, Netherlands, 3HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Researchgroup Participation and Urban Development, Utrecht, Netherlands, 4HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Researchgroup Lifestyle and Health, Utrecht, Netherlands, 5Fitkids Foundation, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Background: The benefits of encouraging a physically active lifestyle from an early age on have been consistently documented. However, most children, especially those with physical disabilities, do not meet the guidelines for physical activity . Unfortunately, promoting a physically active lifestyle is often difficult for pediatric physical therapists (PPTs), because they lack appropriate tools to stimulate physical activities. In this study, we applied a participatory design (‘co-design’) approach to develop tools for stimulating a physically active lifestyle. Co-design, defined as collective creativity across the entire design process, has the potential to lead to the development of interventions that are more engaging, satisfying, and useful to potential users.

Purpose: This paper describes the method and results of a co-design approach to develop a toolkit for PPTs and answers the question: Which toolkit for PPTs can we develop to stimulate physical activity in everyday life settings of children with physical disabilities (6 - 12 years)?

Methods: We engaged in a co-design approach to develop a toolkit, together with parents of children with physical disabilities, PPTs, and other relevant stakeholders (such as the Dutch Association of PPTs, Fitkids, the knowledge centre for sport Netherlands and care sport connectors) and with designers, developers and researchers. This approach included six phases: (1) understanding users’ current needs, (2) exploring ideas, (3) selecting and developing concepts, (4) converging to practical proposals, (5) tool prototyping, and (6) evaluating usability of the tools. Phases 1–5 took place during two one-week design sprints. In phase 6, 14 PPTs tested the prototypes for four weeks. We conducted structured telephone interviews with the PPTs. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. We performed a content analysis to determine barriers and facilitators in the usability of the different tools.

Results: In the first sprint, we focused on the development of tools to improve PPTs’ physical activity coaching; in the second sprint we focused on the development of tools to stimulate children’s physical activity in their own life settings. At the end of each sprint, we had four prototypes (total of eight prototypes) that were evaluated by the 14 PPT’s. The interviews showed that all prototypes were usable in daily PPT practice and the potential of all prototypes were described as good. Several improvements (such as improvements in used materials and text) were mentioned for the prototypes.

Conclusion(s): The toolkit offers new opportunities to stimulate a physically active lifestyle in children with physical disabilities. The co-design approach is an effective way to explore new tools and opportunities for PPTs. PPTs seem to benefit from this co-design approach because it affords a better understanding of their needs. As a consequence, the chances of developing more satisfactory tools increase.

Implications: We will improve the prototypes according to the identified barriers and facilitators. The final products will be combined in one toolkit for PPTs. We will then conduct a feasibility study to examine whether this toolbox increases PPT efficacy to stimulate physical activity in children with physical disabilities.

Funding, acknowledgements: This study was funded by the Foundation Innovation Alliance-Regional Attention and Action for Knowledge Circulation (SIA RAAK, project number RAAK.MKB08.006)

Keywords: Children with disabilities, physical activity, co-design

Topic: Paediatrics

Did this work require ethics approval? No
Institution: HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht
Committee: Ethical Screening Committee, Health Domain
Reason: No

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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