Chucky helps children with autism

A robot resembling the murderous doll Chucky from the movies Child’s Play. It does not sound like the perfect helper for children with autism. Still, this Chucky-like look is one of the performances from the stable of Research Group Supporting Technology in Healthcare. This is what Ramon Daniels, professor of Supportive Technology in Healthcare, tells his colleague Martijn Zoet, professor of Futureproof Financial.


Daniels started his career as an occupational therapist and worked with rehabilitation. Then he went into education. He came to Zuyd through the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. First as head of the Occupational Therapy program and slowly he slipped into science. He obtained his PhD from Maastricht University (UM) and established a master’s degree in innovation in the healthcare sector. Now all the knowledge and expertise from practice, education, science and the world of innovation have been merged in the research group Supporting Technology in Healthcare.

He is also seconded to UM, where he is involved in innovation management and one day a week he works at Sevagram, also in innovation. Because there is a great need for the healthcare system to adopt new technology. The average age of the professionals is rising and the work is getting harder and harder. Well, and then the help of social robots like ‘Chucky’ is more than welcome.

More social with autism

Incidentally, the robot that looks like Chucky is not called Chucky but KASPAR. His face is as expressionless as that of the killer doll. “And it works,” Daniels says. “Children with autism often have difficulty with gestures and facial expressions. Because KASPAR has an expressionless face, children respond better to his instructions than to real people. KASPAR makes even children with autism a little more communicative and social, ”says Daniels. His professorship is therefore now investigating how KASPAR can be used in practice and how healthcare professionals can program it for the children they work with.

3D printer

Daniels and his team are researching the same thing when it comes to 3D printing of tools. “I am an old occupational therapist, and we used to make aids for our clients. Now you can print these designs on a 3D printer. Students from Engineering, CMD and HBO Jura help us with this. In order for the resources to be of good quality, we have a good business model, and we also know responsibility if things go wrong.

For yet other products, Daniels’ research team is investigating why people do not use a tool for arm support, for example. This while the aid is prescribed because they can no longer use their arm or hand properly after a stroke. Do people get prescribed the product that will benefit them the most? “If not, we’ll see how we can make it happen. All kinds of interests play a role in this. Because a supplier does not always have an interest in admitting that a product is not working properly and insurers do not want to cooperation with all different suppliers. ”

To cooperate

Daniels can not help but talk about the many studies his professorship has conducted and the collaboration with other professorships and courses. Almost all of Zuyd helps when it comes to innovations in healthcare such as. Smartglass (glasses that colleagues can use to see from a distance during patient care or the life-safe life project. It started in Horst aan de Maas and is now underway. In Eygelshoven (Kerkrade). The central question is: “How can we entice people in their thirties and forties to already think about later.We hope they will already make a shower cubicle or now install pipes for beds so that a bathroom can be easily added in the future? can be made. “All subjects that hang smoothly together with Zuyd’s spearheads, the transitional themes Healthy Society and Valuable Neighborhoods, and the good collaboration with the MBO courses Vista and Gilde and with Maastricht University is also crucial for devising and implementing all these innovations.

Listen to the entire podcast.

Jonathan meets KASPAR:

Leave a Comment