PORTLAND, Oregon (May 3, 2016) – A University of Michigan institutional review board study has found that the Pumper Car, a popular ride-on toy, has significant physical therapeutic value for children with Down syndrome. This International Design Excellence Award winning toy is also known as the Pumper Car and is made by mobility device manufacturer Columbia-Inland Corp. Researchers Janet L. Hauck, PhD and Dale A. Ulrich, PhD published their findings online on June 26, 2015 in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. They noted that the Pumper Car, “…provides a practical method of promoting health-enhancing behaviors in young children with DS [Down syndrome] and should be considered for clinical application by service providers.”

What makes the Pumper Car especially appropriate for children with Down syndrome and those with other special needs is that it requires children to propel it with an upper and lower body pumping action, similar to using a rowing machine. The stable, four-wheeled ride features multiple safety features not found on similar ride-on toys for children with special needs.

Children with Down syndrome typically resist physical exercise. However for children in the study, the mean time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) increased from 7.8 minutes with the baseline equipment to 22.0 minutes using the Pumper Cars—an increase of 182%. “The increase seen in MVPA from baseline to the Power Pumper sessions is striking,” according to the researchers.

“I had no idea that the toy I designed for fun exercise could be so beneficial for children with Down syndrome,” says inventor Mike Jones. “We discovered that a large number of our buyers were children’s hospitals and parents of children with special needs. It’s such an honor to see that the study supports the type of stories we’ve been hearing from our customers.”

Jones’ company has received scores of letters from doctors, physical therapists, teachers and parents about how their Pumper Cars were transformational for children with special needs. They cite benefits such as increasing children’s muscle strength, endurance, extremity development, balance and motor coordination—even appearing to increase verbal communication for some children with autism. Evidence supports applications for Pumper Cars beyond Down syndrome to include rehabilitation and therapy for children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, brain injury, pain disorders, generalized weaknesses and childhood obesity.

Columbia-Inland Corp. designs and manufactures high-quality mobility products for children. They are passionate advocates for children getting more exercise. Pumper Cars are sold directly from the company at and through

Why it works

What is the secret behind motivating children and encouraging them to participate in their pediatric therapy? The secret is the Pumper Car®. Therapists have found the Pumper Car® to be a major factor in helping children successfully accomplish their therapeutic goals. Children overwhelmingly embrace this new mobility device because they see it as engaging and fun, not therapy. Children are instantly attracted to it because of its “cool” design. Riding the Pumper Car® is so enjoyable they do not want to stop. As a mobility device that exercises both upper and lower extremities, it has proven to be effective in increasing muscle strength, endurance, extremity development and motor coordination. These are just a few of the positive results seen in children when implementing the Pumper Car® into their therapy sessions. Because it is influential in changing a child’s attitude toward therapy, and its use produces significant results, therapists using the Pumper Car® consider it a “must have” mobility device.

Pictured above is Sebastian a young boy with Spina Bifida. This is an event we did at the University of Oregon with former Mrs OR this summer. Sebastian really enjoyed pumping along!   

Pictured above is Sebastian a young boy with Spina Bifida. This is an event we did at the University of Oregon with former Mrs OR this summer. Sebastian really enjoyed pumping along!   

The Pumper CAR® – Provides New Hope For Child With Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus

Case Study from June, 2000. North/Central Illinois Angel from North/Central Illinois was born with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus, which has presented significant mobility problems and delays in gross motor development. He requires the use of a wheel chair and cannot stand without braces. He also suffers from reduced upper body range of motion, strength and coordination. He requires assistance with dressing, eating and other self care skills. He is enrolled in the public school system but his condition isolated him from the other children. This caused him to be withdrawn and cry. After Angel’s mother saw an ad for the Pumper Car®, she was able to secure one through the Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois. Since using the Pumper car®, Angel has become significantly more active. He is now using his legs to propel himself, giving him increased leg strength. Perhaps more important, Angel now feels more included in his peer group at school and is less withdrawn. With his increased mobility, he has become more sociable and confident. His improved ability to use his arms and legs has, in turn, increased hope in his ability to learn to walk.

The Pumper CAR® provides significant therapeutic benefits for:

  • Bilateral Coordination
  • Extremity Development
  • Self-esteem & Confidence
  • Social Skills Development
  • Praxis or Motor Planning
  • Increased Endurance
  • Directionality
  • Muscle Tone
  • Visual Skills
  • Age Appropriate Play Skills
  • Motor Coordination
  • Posture Stability
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Speech
  • Regulation of Activity

Pumper CAR– Instrumental In A Child Meeting His Therapeutic Goals

Case Study Salt Lake City, UT – April 2002

Chrystalin’s nine-year-old son was born with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. He has been in therapy at Primary Children’s Medical Center since the age of two. At his annual evaluation, his therapist made a list of goals and eight months later 90% of them had not yet been reached. Then, in January of 2000, the therapist introduced a Pumper Car® into the session. Chrystalin’s son spent the entire therapy hour riding the Pumper Car®. He loved it! He began looking forward to his physical therapy and the Pumper Car® was the major motivator. By the time of his next annual evaluation, he had been using the Pumper Car® at his sessions for only three months. Because of the Pumper Car®, he met his goals 100% and the family purchased one for home use.