For Parents

Why are we doing this study?

Babies learn about their world by interacting with it through movement to play and interact socially. Research is starting to show that the way in which babies can control their bodies affects how they think, play, solve problems and interact with their parents. The START-Play research program will test a new kind of therapy which targets the development of thinking abilities, as well as movement skills (or “motor skills”). We want to compare this new kind of therapy with the kind of care babies would usually get in their community.

We want to investigate:

  1. How do babies with motor delays develop motor skills?
  2. How do babies with motor delays develop thinking abilities?
  3. How does the new START-Play therapy affect babies with motor delays differently, than the care usually offered to babies with motor delays?

We are specifically interested in these motor skills: sitting, mobility, reaching, head control, and control of the arms, legs and hands.

We are specifically interested in these thinking abilities: problem-solving, object properties, toy play, social interactions, and language.

What would my baby and I have to do to participate in this study?

There are two parts to participation: intervention and assessment.


Any babies that participate in our research will be randomly assigned to either our “usual care” intervention group or our “START-Play” intervention group.

  • Usual care group: Your baby would go to any therapy services they would usually receive.
  • START-Play group: In addition to the usual care your baby would receive in the community, a START-Play therapist would do therapy at your home 2x per week for 12 weeks.


All infants and parents will participate in play-based assessments at your house. A trained assessor would assess your baby’s development at your house across 5 visits.

I'm a Parent I'm a Researcher I'm a Therapist

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you enrolling typically-developing infants (i.e., babies without any motor delays)?
No. We are not recruiting typically-developing babies at this time.

I want to participate. How do I know if my baby is eligible?
To be eligible to participate, your baby must:

  • Be 7-16 months of age (adjusted for prematurity, if applicable)
  • Have gross motor delays
  • Be able to sit propped up for at least 3 seconds, but not be able to get in and out of sitting by him/herself

Am I compensated for participating?
Yes. For each completed assessment visit, you will be given $20 (or $100 for all 5 visits). Also, your baby will be given a toy at 3 of the assessment visits.

Can I still participate if I don’t want the therapist or assessor to come to my house?
Yes. We encourage the project to be done in the home, but we can arrange for any assessment or therapy sessions to be performed at one of our labs.

What will the therapist do with my baby if they receive the START-Play intervention?
A START-Play therapist will play with you and your baby in a way that will challenge your baby’s thinking and movement skills. Activities will be tailored to each baby and the therapist will gradually advance the difficulty to help your baby grow. Each session will last about 45 minutes and is meant to be fun for you and your baby.

Will you need to have access to my baby’s health information?
Yes, however you will be providing all medical information and always have the right not to answer any questions. All of your baby’s information will be kept confidential at all times and only trained research professionals will access it. If you and your baby participate, all information and data relating to your baby will be identified by only a number, and not your baby’s name. Also, if you ever decide to withdraw from participation, you will be free to do so at any time.

More Information

To learn more about the guidelines for ethical research on humans, please visit one of the following websites or contact the site coordinator nearest to you.

Pittsburgh, PA

Office of Research
Duquesne University
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Newark, DE

UD Research
University of Delaware
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Richmond, VA

Office of Research and Innovation
Virginia Commonwealth University
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Seattle, WA

UW Human Subjects Division
University of Washington
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Want to learn more about our research?

A description of our clinical trial is available here.

If you would like to learn more about our research or if you would like your child to participate, please contact the site coordinator nearest to you.

Want to learn more about motor delays and motor development?

Educational and informational resources about motor delays and motor development:

Nonprofit foundations and programs supporting cerebral palsy and motor delays: