Microswitch-aided programs to support physical exercise or adequate ambulation in persons with multiple disabilities

Giulio E. Lancioni, Nirbhay N. Singh, Mark F. O'Reilly, Jeff Sigafoos, Gloria Alberti, Viviana Perilli, Doretta Oliva, Serafino Buono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three microswitch-aided programs were assessed in three single-case studies to enhance physical exercise or ambulation in participants with multiple disabilities. Study I was aimed at helping a woman who tended to have the head bending forward and the arms down to exercise a combination of appropriate head and arms movements. Study II was aimed at promoting ambulation continuity with a man who tended to have ambulation breaks. Study III was aimed at promoting ambulation with appropriate foot position in a girl who usually showed toe walking. The experimental designs of the studies consisted of a multiple probe across responses (Study I), an ABAB sequence (Study II), and an ABABB1 sequence (Study III). The last phase of each study was followed by a post-intervention check. The microswitches monitored the target responses selected for the participants and triggered a computer system to provide preferred stimuli contingent on those responses during the intervention phases of the studies. Data showed that the programs were effective with each of the participants who learned to exercise head and arms movements, increased ambulation continuity, and acquired high levels of appropriate foot position during ambulation, respectively. The positive performance levels were retained during the post-intervention checks. The discussion focused on (a) the potential of technology-aided programs for persons with multiple disabilities and (b) the need of replication studies to extend the evidence available in the area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2190-2198
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Ambulation
  • Arms movements
  • Head movements
  • Microswitch-aided programs
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Toe walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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