Orthopedic surgery residents test car seat safety for special needs children — 6 insights

Shayna Korol -   Print  |

McLaren Flint (Mich.) orthopedic surgery residents Angela Collins, MD, PhD, and Sean Caskey, DO, have joined forces with Kettering University researchers to test the safety of car seats for children with special needs.

Here are six things to know:


1. According to Dr. Collins, there is a lack of data supporting the current methods physicians and families use to move young children in body or hip spica casts, which are used to treat pediatric musculoskeletal issues of the hip and thigh.


2. Children in these casts usually do not fit in traditional car seats, so parents often use special car seats or harnesses they purchase or receive on loan from a hospital. The car seats can cost $150 to $1,300 and are not required to be tested with child-size crash dummies in casts.


3. Patrick Atkinson, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University, said many parents install traditional car seats incorrectly. The special car seats can be more complicated than traditional car seats, increasing the chance of misuse.


4. Dr. Collins said that some parents choose to keep the child at home or hold the child in their lap instead of using a car seat, which is illegal. Others call an ambulance to take the child to appointments, but ambulances are not proven to be safer than other vehicles.


5. The team is testing four car seats and the EZ-ON harness, conducting two or three tests per day. Dr. Collins casts the crash dummy, and once it dries Dr. Atkinson straps the dummy into the car seat or harness. They put chalk on the dummy’s face to determine whether the head hits the cast or seat.


6. The McLaren Foundation gave a $25,000 grant and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America contributed $1,000 for the research effort. Testing began in late January and side-impact testing will start in late February.


More articles on orthopedics:

Orthopedic surgeon to know: Dr. Answorth Allen of Hospital for Special Surgery

Dr. Emily Carmody hosts workshop to encourage women to enter the orthopedic field

Orthopedic surgeon to know: Dr. Constance Chu of Stanford Medicine

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