The seat in your car seat can make a big difference for children in wheelchair-accessible vehicles, according to research.
The researchers found that when the car seat was in use, children who were in wheel-chairs or other mobility devices, were significantly more likely to be able to walk and use their hands for balance.
“The carseat has a really good ability to make the child feel safe, even when it’s not a real-life situation,” Associate Professor Mark Rimmer from the School of Health, Safety and Health Sciences at the University of NSW said.
“It’s also an opportunity to use a child’s ability to control the movement and use of the arm.”
The research team tracked the children using a mobile app that allowed parents to see how many times their child walked while the car was in motion.
They found that children who had a car seat in use were three times more likely than those who were not to be walking while sitting in the car.
“When the car is moving, the child’s arms and legs are free, so they have the ability to use the arm and the hand to walk or pick up something,” Associate Prof Rimmer said.
This is a key finding as the car can often be the first thing children think about while sitting on the carseat, Dr Rimmer added.
“As soon as they feel safe in their own car, the car sits as they’re sitting in it.”
A child in wheel chair may be able walk more quickly, but their balance is still very important.
In a study in the journal BMC Pediatrics, the researchers looked at more than 50 studies involving more than 3,000 children who underwent spinal surgery.
In the majority of studies, the children were able to control their own wheelchairs and walked more than twice as much while in the wheelchairs as when sitting.
The study also found that the car’s positioning had a strong effect on the ability of the child to walk.
“We found that car seats can make the vehicle safer for the child, and it also makes the child safer by keeping their balance,” Associate Associate Professor Rimmer explained.
“There are a lot of safety issues that are associated with wheelchairs, so that makes the car a very important piece of equipment.”
Car seats can also help to improve the children’s health.
“Research has shown that children are at greater risk of serious cardiovascular disease, as well as osteoporosis, and the more they use a car, they’re at greater risks of those kinds of diseases,” Associate Lecturer Dr John Lacey from the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Queensland said.
Car seat safety research is very important, Dr Lacey added.
Children with disabilities have a lower heart rate, and their lower heart rates can contribute to a range of issues, including cardiovascular disease and other conditions.
“If you’re trying to give children a more normal life, and they’re not having a heart attack, that could be a huge benefit,” Associate lecturer Dr Lacerdio said.
Dr Lace said children’s car seats are not the only means of safety they can use in the home.
“I think the key is for parents to understand that there are other ways to safely transport children, and those other ways of transporting them can be as safe as a car,” he said.
To find out more about car seats, visit the Department of Health website.
Topics: disabilities, child-health, disabilities-and-disabilities, health, sydney-2000, nsw, australia