Notable Heroes in Health Care: Go Baby Go

Last updated on December 17th, 2021 at 12:19 pm

The Go Baby Go program at Children’s Wisconsin provides motorized cars to young children with special needs to improve mobility and combat learned helplessness. 

It was founded as a collaboration between the health system’s Physical and Occupational Therapy department and Marquette University’s Biomedical Engineering department by physical and occupational therapist Allison Friel, physical therapist Elizabeth Conrath, and Dr. Gerald Harris, director of the Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Engineering Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Conrath and Friel today serve as lead clinicians for Go Baby Go. 

On average, the program provides cars to more than 70 children annually. The cars are designed specifically for each child and their needs. Last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 30 families received cars, and this year the program has distributed nearly 60. 

Self-initiated mobility is important for a child’s overall development, and very young children are in a critical period for developing brain plasticity and learning, said Juliet Kersten, vice president of ambulatory and regional services for Children’s Wisconsin. 

“Through the use of miniature motorized cars (children with special needs) can foster confidence, facilitate holistic development and reduce their dependence on caregivers,” Kersten said. 

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