Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Car seats for disabled children

Children with physical disabilities - supporting posture

Good postural support is important for many physically disabled children. It keeps them safe and comfortable, promotes good hand function and lets them look around and interact with the environment. It's particularly important when travelling in a car because of the forces from accelerating, braking and cornering.

Carrot car seat from JCMFor some babies and small children, standard child car seats provide enough postural support. Some children, however, will need more specialist seating.

  • A seat that can be tilted backwards - especially if it has a good head support - can help maintain an upright posture.
  • Side prompts give extra support to the trunk and head. Some seats also have adjustable padding to help ensure a good fit.
  • Adjustable seat length and back height help ensure a good fit, which supports good posture.
  • A pommel helps guard against the child's legs coming together or crossing.
  • Footrests can help some children maintain an upright posture by giving them something to push against.
  • A tray allows the child to support themselves with their forearms.

product table - specialist car seats

You can also get specialist child car seats that swivel or slide out to help with getting in and out. We've produced a table that shows the available specialist child car seats, with information about features, prices and suppliers - see Rica specialist car seat table (PDF). Some equipment will also be available second-hand. 

A range of accessories is available, which includes spare cushions and covers, padded chest prompts and headrest speakers.

Older children may be more comfortable on the adult car seat, as long as it gives them enough support and they can wear the seat belt safely. However, remember that children under 135cm tall (about 4' 5") must use an appropriate child car seat. If they need support to sit upright, there are a number of harnesses that attach to the seat. Always use the car seat belt too.

product table - specialist harnesses

We've produced a table that shows the available specialist child harnesses, with information about features, prices and suppliers - see Rica specialist harness table (PDF). Some equipment will also be available second-hand.

A wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) allows a wheelchair user to travel in their chair. This means they can get the benefit of their own supportive seating system, and that they don't have to transfer or be transferred into the car.

Last updated: December 2012

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