Non-ambulatory People with Intellectual Disabilities Practice Functional Arm, Leg or Head Responses Via a Smartphone-Based Program

  • Giulio E. LancioniEmail author
  • Nirbhay N. Singh
  • Mark F. O’Reilly
  • Jeff Sigafoos
  • Gloria Alberti
  • Francesca Campodonico
  • Rosanna Tedone
  • Sara Quaranta
  • Alessandro O. Caffò


This study extended the research on technology-aided programs for promoting the independent performance (practice) of functional motor responses (e.g., arm or leg-foot movements) in people with intellectual disabilities and extensive motor impairments. Specifically, the study assessed (a) the suitability of simple commercial technology (i.e., a smartphone) to monitor the responses targeted and provide stimulation contingent on them, and (b) the impact of response performance on the participants’ level of physical exertion (heart rates) and mood. The results showed that the simple commercial technology was effective in helping the participants independently practice the two target responses selected for them. All participants had a significant increase in their heart rates during the intervention sessions, thus suggesting that the performance of the target responses represented a mild form of physical activity. Moreover, all participants displayed mood improvement (i.e., an increase in indices of happiness) during the intervention sessions. The implications of these results are discussed in terms of (a) new technology solutions for intervention programs with people with intellectual disabilities and extensive motor impairments, and (b) potential benefits of those programs.


Smartphone-based program Intellectual disability Motor impairment Stimulation control Response exercise Physical activity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

Appropriate institutional approval and written informed consent were obtained for the study. All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

The participants’ legal representatives had provided written informed consent for the participants’ involvement in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulio E. Lancioni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nirbhay N. Singh
    • 2
  • Mark F. O’Reilly
    • 3
  • Jeff Sigafoos
    • 4
  • Gloria Alberti
    • 5
  • Francesca Campodonico
    • 5
  • Rosanna Tedone
    • 5
  • Sara Quaranta
    • 5
  • Alessandro O. Caffò
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience and Sense OrgansUniversity of BariBariItaly
  2. 2.Medical College of GeorgiaAugusta UniversityAugustaUSA
  3. 3.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  5. 5.Lega F. D’Oro Research CenterOsimoItaly

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