​Helping provide my child with mobility while supporting their development

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on December 18, 2020 # Mobility

Permobil is proud to introduce the Explorer Mini for toddlers which was designed to help maximize early learning by providing your child with an opportunity for independent mobility while promoting developmental milestones.

What does success look like for my child with mobility impairments?

In typical development, children need to work through various milestones like when they are learning to crawl and to reach for objects. This strengthens their arms and legs to prepare them for standing and later walking. While they often fail at first, they keep trying until they’re successful. Parents don’t typically prop them up and “save them” - they let them struggle through.

However, for a very young child unable to self-initiate mobility like this, the Explorer Mini can give them a safe opportunity to work through postures that may promote development. It may take time and practice, but they can ultimately be successful with achieving an upright posture and independent movement. As a result of this improved positioning, it can also promote visual, sensory, and motor integration.

Self-initiated exploration is key for learningExplorer Mini

Caregivers and clinicians have been reluctant to recommend or accept a wheelchair as it may be seen as a “last resort”, a failure, or a sign of a disability (2). In fact, the disability is not having access to one’s environment! This is particularly troubling for young children who need environmental exploration to learn, play, socialize, and find out who they are in their world. The Explorer Mini is a device that looks like a toy but can provide your toddler with the opportunity to explore their environment, play with peers and family, while helping to support their development.

How is the Explorer Mini different than other power mobility devices?

There are limited options for early power mobility devices on the market.

Modified powered toys have been successfully used to provide children with the ability to explore their environment and move from point A to point B. But as non-medical devices, they were not designed with the needs of children with mobility impairments in mind.

There are pediatric power wheelchairs too, but the typical age range for these mobility devices is three and above (4). Waiting for that age range to provide power mobility for your child means potentially missing out on developmental milestones and the opportunity for earlier experiences with self-initiated mobility.Sylvia in mini explorer

From the photos here, you’ll see that the Explorer Mini has a toy-like appearance and family-friendly design. However, it has been rigorously tested and gone through regulatory approval to be considered a medical device. In fact, it is the first FDA-cleared power mobility medical device intended for children aged 12-36 months, who weigh up to 35 lb, and are under 39” tall.

The Explorer Mini is not intended to be your child’s full-time device

It is a tool allowing self-initiated mobility and freedom of movement which can help your child improve trunk and head control, and functional use of their upper extremities. It is not designed simply to get them from point A to point B. The Explorer Mini is intended to allow your toddler to explore their environment while in an upright posture that helps support milestone achievement. Each component of the Explorer Mini is intentionally designed to address areas of childhood growth and development. Key features include:

  • Developmentally inspired seating that promotes safe, stable, and upright postures
  • Integrated table and backrest that allows freedom of movement, and aids in the development of head and trunk control
  • Height and seat options that are simple to adjust as your child grows and progresses
  • Sylvia using mini explorerCompact front wheel drive base that easily maneuvers in kid-sized spaces
  • One simple, midline joystick that promotes reaching and visual exploration

To learn more about the Explorer Mini click here.

Link to pillar page here.

Meet Sylvia

Learn more about the Explorer Mini and how it has impacted Sylvia from her father’s perspective (video)


This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.