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University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences Teams Up with the Occupational Therapy Association of California and the San Marcos Senior Center to Host a CarFit Event to Help Senior Drivers Stay Safe

In honor of April as Occupational Therapy Month, students volunteered to help older drivers find a better, safer “fit” with their cars

San Marcos, CA – April 10, 2017– The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), a leading graduate institution that emphasizes health and rehabilitative sciences education through innovative classroom education, hosted a CarFit event, in collaboration with the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) and the San Marcos Senior Center. The event was held on Saturday, April 8 and aimed to help senior drivers find a better “fit” with their cars for comfort and safety.

CarFit, a national program developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. The CarFit program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance their safety as drivers, and/or increase their mobility in the community.

Dr. Jennie DiGrado, Master of Occupational Therapy faculty member at USAHS, facilitates CarFit training for students throughout the year. She has trained over 300 students and serves the San Marcos community through education in keeping drivers safe and assisting older drivers in adjusting to their vehicle more comfortably and improving the fit of their car.

“It is critically important that mature drivers make safety a personal priority,” said Dr. DiGrado.  “CarFit’s crucial initiative is to keep seniors safe in the car; not to take away the keys. Our students are able to execute the CarFit 12- point checklist and get first-hand experience using their occupational therapy education to help others.”

CarFit is designed to give a quick, yet comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together. At a CarFit event, trained volunteers complete a 12-point checklist with each driver. Among the items checked:

  • Correct position of driver’s seat
  • Driver’s ability to easily reach pedals
  • Proper adjustment of mirrors

Occupational therapists and student volunteers were on hand to provide a consultation and taught drivers how to maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. They also provided information to participants addressing individual needs, including information about local community resources on exercise, nutrition and other programs to help keep them safe on the road.

Important CarFit statistics:

  • 37% of individuals using CarFit had at least one critical safety issue needing assistance
  • 10% of individuals were seated too close to the steering wheel
  • 20% did not have a line of sight of 3” over the steering wheel

The majority of individuals who filled out the post-CarFit survey indicated that they made changes to improve the fit of their vehicle or were willing to discuss driver safety with a family member or health care provider.

Older drivers can also check with their local AAA club or AARP office to take a driver safety refresher course for older road users or look into occupational therapy driving evaluation programs for individualized assessments and recommendations. CarFit represents an extension of those classroom programs, and an opportunity for older drivers to make sure their personal vehicles are a perfect safety fit.

To schedule an interview with Dr. DiGrado or for more information on CarFit please contact Rachael Lighty at [email protected] or 410.218.6055.

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About University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS)

The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) is a graduate institution that offers degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, education and health science, as well as continuing education programs. Founded in 1979, USAHS has locations in San Marcos, California; St. Augustine, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Miami, Florida. USAHS is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. USAHS is one of more than 70 institutions in 25 countries that comprise the Laureate International Universities network. For more information about USAHS visit www.usa.edu.

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