CarFit is national program developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association and is designed to give a quick, yet comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together. This program helps adults 65 years and older find a better “fit” with their cars for comfort and safety.
On October 17, 43 OT students and four OT faculty assisted 13 community members by “fitting” their car to them. The student volunteers used a 12-point checklist to check the fit while the driver remained in their vehicle. The checklist included steering wheel height and distance, seat position and height, seat belt position, the driver’s ability to reach and maneuver the pedals, and mirror adjustment for proper positioning. In addition, two licensed occupational therapists were in attendance in case the driver experienced any difficulty or had further questions about how their car can best fit them.
“While going through the checklist, we [students] would provide recommendations for adaptive equipment that would make it easier and safer for the individual to get in and out of the car,” said 2nd year MOT student Olivia Bartolacci.
As individuals age they may experience changes in mobility, flexibility, strength, range of motion, vision and height or size. Older adults may be fearful of losing their ability to drive, and along with that losing some of their independence. By having people bring their own car to a free event, OT students and faculty are able to target these individuals in their natural environment to increase awareness, safety, and independence.
“TheCarFitevent aligns with OT because we strive to increase independence of individuals in our community and are skilled at modifying/adapting the environment an individual interacts with and providing education on safe habits and the use of adaptive equipment.” Bartolacci said.
The OT Department is planning to have another CarFitevent in Columbia next fall and looking to expand this event to the St. Louis Area.