Toys that are also rehab tools: secret rehabilitation benefits for kids with hemiparesis

Hemiparesis, or weakness on one side of the body, is typically not a life-threatening condition. However, it comes with unique challenges and often requires lifetime therapy. Often the affected arm is neglected and not used regularly, making it difficult for kids to perform many two-handed tasks like buttoning up a shirt or cutting food on their plate. Therapists that treat children with hemiparesis often prescribe intensive home exercise programs. These programs encourage awareness and promote use of the affected arm, but achieving and maintaining results requires constant repetition and focus.

Repetitive movement can quickly become boring and any parent can tell you that it is next to impossible to keep a child focused on a task. This is especially true for the modern child who has endless choices of hot new games and toys at their fingertips. Luckily there are toys on the market that have secret therapeutic benefits!

The Neofect Smart Kids and Neofect Smart Glove allows children to use their affected arm to participate in fun virtual reality-based games that promote increased movement and hours of kid-directed fun!

toys that are also rehab tools - Neofect Smart Kids

Smart Kids is a flexible wrist and hand strap that turns the arm into a controller for games played on an included tablet. Pretty cool right? The wrist and hand strap contains sensors which measure movement and record it in real time. There are 45+ games which includes firefighter rescue, ping pong, cross the river, picture match and many more. Each game is designed to target increased use of one or more specific movements of the wrist or hand while also focusing your little one’s brain in the process.

secret rehabilitation benefits for kids with hemiparesis

Toys backed by scientific research
Recent studies using virtual-reality gaming products like the Smart Kids as a supplement to traditional approaches have reported statistically significant improvements in:

  • Cortical reorganization: Brain changes that lead to functional movement! Targeted, sustained interaction between the brain and the muscle nerves has been shown to create neuroplastic changes in the brain particularly in areas related to motor control. [3].[2].[4, 5]
  • Motor control: Use it or lose it! Repetition of movement leads to improved strength, dexterity, motor planning skills as well as increased ability to use of the arm during daily tasks [1]. [6].
  • Motivation and confidence: I’m winning! When abilities are challenged at the right level kids can be motivated to keep playing in order to win the game[8, 9]. Through the achievement of small wins in the game, kids are secretly performing exercises while building the confidence needed to attempt new tasks outside of the games.
  • Compliance: Time flies when you’re having fun! Virtual reality gaming use can increase home exercise compliance levels in children who feel like they are “just playing” [7].
    *Cognition: Get your head in the game! Improved concentration and levels of participation have been reported when using VR intervention[11]. The games provide feedback which enables kids to improve their performance while giving them a measurable sense of achievement[12] through persistence and visible control over their actions.

rehabilitation tools for kids

To hear from one of our Smart Kids users, her family and physician, check out Ilana’s Story. For a trial or to find out more about whether the Neofect Smart Kids is a good fit for your child’s rehabilitation needs, email us at or call us at 888-623-8984.

  1. Luna-Oliva, L., et al., Kinect Xbox 360 as a therapeutic modality for children with cerebral palsy in a school environment: a preliminary study. Neurorehabilitation, 2013. 33(4): p. 513-21.
  2. Snider, L., A. Majnemer, and V. Darsaklis, Virtual reality as a therapeutic modality for children with cerebral palsy. Developmental neurorehabilitation, 2010. 13(2): p. 120-8.
  3. Riener, R. and M. Harders, Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation, in Virtual Reality in Medicine. 2012, Springer. p. 161-180.
  4. You, S.H., et al., Cortical reorganization induced by virtual reality therapy in a child with hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 2005. 47(9): p. 628-35.
  5. Huang, H.-h., et al., Bound for success: a systematic review of constraint-induced movement therapy in children with cerebral palsy supports improved arm and hand use. Physical Therapy, 2009. 89(11): p. 1126-1141.
  6. Winkels, D.G., et al., Wii-habilitation of upper extremity function in children with cerebral palsy. An explorative study. Developmental neurorehabilitation, 2013. 16(1): p. 44-51.
  7. Bryanton, C., et al., Feasibility, motivation, and selective motor control: virtual reality compared to conventional home exercise in children with cerebral palsy. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 2006. 9(2): p. 123-8.
  8. Harris, K. and D. Reid, The influence of virtual reality play on children's motivation. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy - Revue Canadienne d Ergotherapie, 2005. 72(1): p. 21-9.
  9. Medina-Mirapeix, F., Lillo-Navarro, C., Montilla-Herrador, J., Gacto-Sanchez, M., Franco-Sierra, M. Á., & Escolar-Reina, P. (2017). Predictors of parents’ adherence to home exercise programs for children with developmental disabilities, regarding both exercise frequency and duration: a survey design. European journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine.
  10. Meyer-Heim, A. and H.J.H. van, Robot-assisted and computer-enhanced therapies for children with cerebral palsy: current state and clinical implementation. Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, 2013. 20(2): p. 139-45.
  11. Weiss, P.L., P. Bialik, and R. Kizony, Virtual reality provides leisure time opportunities for young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 2003. 6(3): p. 335-42.
  12. Lewis, G.N. and J.A. Rosie, Virtual reality games for movement rehabilitation in neurological conditions: how do we meet the needs and expectations of the users? Disability and rehabilitation, 2012. 34(22): p. 1880-1886.
  13. Sveistrup, H., et al., Outcomes of intervention programs using flatscreen virtual reality. Conference Proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society, 2004. 7: p. 4856-8

  • Siena Conde, OTR/L
    Siena is an occupational therapist and rehabilitation technology and clinical application specialist based out of San Francisco, CA. Siena works for Rally Health as a Clinical Content Manager.

Neofect Smart Kids Helps Children with Hemiplegia
Neofect Smart Kids Helps Children with Hemiplegia
John was diagnosed with hemiplegia at the age of 11. His father came across the Neofect Smart Kids device on YouTube.
Pediatric Hemiparesis Rehabilitation:  Solutions to Common Pitfalls from an OT
Hemiparesis in children
Hemiparesis in Children: Pitfalls and Rehabilitation Solutions from an Occupational Therapist
If you and your kiddo are starting out in your therapy journey, problems and plateaus will occur. Here are 3 common missteps.