Age-Related Postural Abnormalities and its Effect on the Elderly Driving Ability

University  Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Principal Investigators  Kischa Reed, Ph.D.
PI Contact Information  Division of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Sciences
Phone: 850.412.6629
Funding Source(s)and Amounts  Provided(by each agency or organization)  USDOT: $75,400
Florida A&M University: $45,300
Total Project Cost  $120,700
Agency ID or Contract Number  DTRT13-G-UTC42-004139-005714
Start and End Dates 08/01/2017 – 07/31/2019
Brief Description of Research Project 

An important issue facing the ageing population is the need to maintain an independent, active, and mobile quality of life despite declining physical abilities and skills. For the elderly driver, the increasingly dependency on automobile for mobility can place them at a greater risk of death from motor vehicle accident than younger drivers. In the aging adult, structural abnormalities of the spine can have influence on seated driving posture by excessive displacement of the center of mass (COM) that can add increased stress or strain on postural muscles of the neck and back. A change in body proportion or position has been shown to alter alignment at the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex where in the older adult, a maligned or altered postural sitting position may advance existing mobility deficits and create driving challenges that can translate to a rise in accidents among older adults. Postural malalignments can impair successful response time that may cause the body to fail and/or diminish in its ability to react to or adapt to new demands experienced within the immediate environment. Efficient coordinated neuromuscular linkages are necessary for effective transfer of loads and forces up and down the kinetic chain. Thus, a poor driving postural position may considerably elevate risk for neck and low back injury or death during an automobile accident. Safe driving is important for appropriate information processing. It is hereby proposed to carry out a systematic study on the driving ability of elderly drivers in the aging population in Florida. This is done by evaluating the biomechanics of sitting postures and the impact postural impairments may have on the driving ability. Data will be collected from different sitting posture types using 3D motion analysis of pelvic position and COM shifts associated with small and large anteriorly, posteriorly, and lateral force displacement on the sitting posture. Additionally, a postural Harness-Restraint system may be incorporated. A Foot Plate will be used to collect data on foot pressure and load transfer from upper extremity to lower extremity. This is used to evaluate driving response time and sitting posture plus the need for a postural Harness-Restraint system. The results obtained from this study will be used to create a data base and produce models that relate postural impairments impact on driving ability and safety in older adult drivers. Furthermore, it is envisaged that this research will assist in the cabin design of automobile for elderly drivers. Another component of this project involves an outreach program in the form of health fairs, designed to provide educational workshops that address physical evaluations of static and dynamic posture. This will be presented within the local community at churches and senior social groups.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Place Any Photos Here Final Report
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) See Final Report