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Oct 23 2012

Occupational Therapy Students to Help Senior Drivers

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (October 24, 2012) ─ Students in New York Institute of Technology’s occupational therapy program will offer free safety checks on November 3 for older adults interested in measuring how well they fit in their cars.

The CarFit program, part of a national initiative, aims to help seniors maintain comfort and control of their vehicles.  At the same time, it offers NYIT students a hands-on opportunity to practice the skills that are at the heart of the occupational therapy profession: helping people overcome challenges to participate in daily activities that are important to them.

“Occupational therapy is the bridge between a regard for other’s limitations and having the skills to do something about it,” said student Eric de Rolland. "I hope the program addresses the needs of the aging population effectively that in turn, facilitates their continued driving freedom in a safe manner."

Among the items that NYIT students will check for drivers over age 55 are: steering wheel line of sight, head restraint positioning, seat belts, and the driver’s access to the gas and brake pedals.

The program is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at NYIT’s north parking lot. Appointments for the 20-minute checks are available by request contacting Assistant Professor Gioia Ciani at 516.686.3886 or gciani@nyit.edu.

“If necessary, we’ll suggest or recommend some changes to their vehicle, like adjusting mirrors or changing the seat position, or we’ll recommend adaptive equipment,” said Ciani, who is overseeing the program.

CarFit was developed through a partnership of the American Society on Aging, AARP, AAA, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. According to the group’s website, a growing number of Americans age 65 and older are driving. At the same time, driving has become more difficult because of increased traffic, bigger vehicles, and faster speeds.

Ciani said some seniors may have lost a spouse and failed to make adjustments to the car. Others are driving new cars but are not sure how to make an adjustment.

“We know seniors are at risk for accidents and they tend to be the ones who get hurt the most,” said Ciani. “Most of the people who participate in these programs say they’ve made changes to their car and they really gained something out of it.”

“This is a young and new field that occupational therapy is getting involved in and I want to be there to help it grow and to make myself a more competent clinician,” said Gerald Mohabir, one of 16 students who will participate. “This program will allow older adults to feel safe and secure while driving, while protecting others on the road as well.”

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About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
 
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit nyit.edu.
 
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