Earning The ATP

Hitting the Road:WC19, Driver Assessment & More

Ok, after getting through the augmentative communications material a few issues back, I had every confidence that the adaptive automotive portion of the ATP exam was going to be (1) more familiar to me when I came across it and (2) therefore, easier.

From what I’ve seen in my trusty Assistive Technology: Principles & Practice textbook, that’s been somewhat true. But there’s still a lot of material to tackle, so…let’s get behind the wheel and go.

More than WC19 & Van Conversions

I did a quick scan of chapter 13 (Technologies that Aid Transportation) before settling down to read. Because Mobility Management regularly discusses the technology aspects of adaptive automotive equipment and accessibility, I expected much of the material to be familiar.

But other parts, such as regulations regarding car and booster seats for very young children, were new or newer to me. Here are the major topics discussed in AT: Principles & Practice.

Vehicle Restraint Systems for Children. This includes the basic laws that require infants and young children to be safely secured inside motor vehicles via car or booster seats until they reach a certain combination of weight, height and in most states, age. The subjects in this section include rear- and forward-facing car and booster seats for infants and kids, how they should be installed, and the safest positions within the car for child passengers. A theme that repeats throughout other segments: To do its job properly, the seatbelt has to be properly positioned across the child. This section also contains discussion on children with disabilities and their options for motor vehicle seating.

Wheelchairs used as seating within motor vehicles. Experts agree that it’s optimal for drivers and passengers to transfer out of their wheelchairs and use the motor vehicle seating and seatbelts. But since that isn’t always possible or practical, this chapter includes discussion of what’s commonly called “WC19.” The voluntary standard requires a wheelchair to include, among other features, “at least four permanently labeled securement points that can withstand the forces of a 30-mph impact; specific securement-point geometry that will accept a securement strap end fitting hook; has a clear path of travel for allowing proper placement of vehicle-mounted occupant safety restraints next to the body; and a standard interface on the pelvic belt to connect to a vehicle-anchored shoulder belt,” according to the RERC on wheelchair transportation safety (see sidebar).

Driver assessment & retraining, which includes an evaluation of the driver, identification of any special needs and education to relearn driving skills or learn new, adaptive skills if, for instance, the driver is now driving entirely via hand controls.

Adaptive vehicles and equipment, everything from vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs to seats that rotate and exit the vehicle to facilitate transfers from wheelchairs.

Adaptive driving and secondary controls, the first referring to primary control functions such as steering, acceleration and braking. Secondary controls involve functions such as turn signals and windshield wipers. Discussion here involves the types of systems and how they enable, for instance, a person to drive with one hand instead of two.

Budgeting Time, Seeing the Big Picture

Several of our series mentors have talked about the importance of determining what I know as well as what I don’t, so I’ll be able to efficiently budget my time.

That’s been less an issue for segments such as anatomy and aug comm, when little of the information seemed familiar and I had to study everything hard. But with adaptive automotive equipment and driver assessment, I was on steadier ground.

Once again, though, I found out why it was important to start my studying strategy with anatomy and related subjects, such as how various medical conditions and injuries affect body functioning and mobility. As I read the AT book and also checked out a couple of other Web sites listed in the sidebar, I noticed repeatedly that discussion centered around, for instance, what adaptive equipment a person with a T7 spinal cord injury might need to be able to drive.

Which requires me, obviously, to know the impact of an injury at the “T7” location along the spinal cord, then to know what sort of adaptive automotive equipment would be helpful.

Yes, I’m now glad for those sessions I spent with my colored pencils and my anatomy coloring book!

Resources for the ATP Exam: Adaptive Automotive Equipment & Accessibility

Assistive Technology: Principles & Practice, by Albert Cook & Janice Miller Polgar: chapter 13.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety, divided into segments for consumers, prescribers, manufacturers & transporters. This comprehensive site on the WC19 standard explains what the standard requires and features a list of wheelchairs & seating systems that have been successfully crash tested: rercwts.org/WC19.html.

The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED), whose members assess motor vehicle drivers and passengers for adaptive automotive equipment. Check out the fact sheets, such as Driving & SCI, Driving & Stroke, and Driving& TBI. They describe the difficulties to look for during driver assessments: driver-ed.org.

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

Upcoming Webcast

ALS: Progressive Thinking for a Progressive Disease

Lois Brown, MPT, ATP/SMS, discusses the many challenges of working with patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (PALS) and seating & mobility options available to support their independence and quality of life as ALS progresses.

Live event: Sept. 16

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