Reduce the Number and Cost of Injuries and Fatalities Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents

Written by Abigail Hickman, Student PT

In 2018, the medical and work loss costs of motor vehicle accidents in Virginia exceeded 1.31 billion dollars (CDC, 2020). Motor vehicle accident prevention is the most effective method to reduce these expenses (CDC, 2020), and physical therapists can help to reduce the cost of injury and fatality. There is a need for physical therapists to provide education on car safety posture and positioning for diverse body types to prevent costly injuries and fatalities in Virginia. Ironically, physical therapists do car transfers, adjust wheelchairs and pediatric car seats, and specialize in movement and positioning. However, adjusting a headrest or car seat for adults has not been implemented in practice.

When a headrest is appropriately positioned, the risk of traumatic brain injuries decreases by 10%, which could be the difference between a minor, major, or fatal head injury (Gheorghe et al., 2022). Adult car seat adjustments are not currently offered by health professionals, police, fire departments, or car dealerships. To optimize the fit of adjustable car seats and headrests for different body types, it's necessary to collaborate between movement experts, mechanical engineers, and car designers.

It is of paramount importance to ensure the safety of loved ones. As physical therapists, we can positively impact individuals by advocating for car safety in posture and positioning before a devastating or fatal incident on the road. This handout is the result of a scoping review conducted in the fall of 2022 on car positioning and safety related to positioning. The following recommendations illustrate how to promote safe posture and car seat positioning to reduce the risk of injury and fatality in motor vehicle accidents.



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