Wheelchair safety on the road

John Reck.

Individuals riding in a vehicle while seated in wheelchairs are 45 times more likely to be injured in a crash than a typical passenger. That was one of the sobering facts pointed out by John Reck, Matheny’s director of assistive technology, at The Arc of New Jersey’s annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities held May 31 in Princeton, NJ.

In a session on Wheelchair Transportation Safety, Reck added that many injuries of wheelchair-seated passengers are caused by non-collision events such as abrupt turning maneuvers and hard braking. To prevent such accidents, Reck recommended always securing wheelchairs, using occupant restraints and removing loose accessories from the wheelchair, which might injure an occupant during impact.

The safest option, he said, is to transfer a wheelchair occupant into a manufacturer-installed vehicle seat and use the vehicle’s crash-tested occupant restraint system.

At Matheny, Reck heads the assistive technology program, which strives to meet the needs of each individual by providing the perfect match of assistive technology services and products in order to give each person the highest possible level of health, function and quality of life.

The power of assistive technology

Matheny student Michael Taurozzi uses a switch to access a computer, assisted by OT Wendell Lumapas.

Occupational therapy helps people regain, develop and build skills that are important for independent living and well-being. OTs often use assistive technology to help people with disabilities with life skills they couldn’t normally perform.

At Matheny, many students and patients are able to access a computer by using a switch. OTs train our children and adults to use any functional part of their body to activate a computer program. This use of assistive technology enables them to participate more fully in school activities, leisure activities and activities of daily living.