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Comfort/Orthopaedic Aid Use in Older Drivers Study


Project: Development of guidelines for the use of comfort and orthopaedic aids for older people travelling in cars


Who are we?

Neuroscience Research Australia is one of the largest research institutes in Australia dedicated to the study of the brain and nervous system. We have an international reputation for research excellence.

Areas of research include:

  • injury prevention
  • mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia, autism etc)
  • ageing and neurodegeneration (e.g. dementia)
  • sensation, movement, balance and falls
  • brain structure and function
  • neural injury


Who is running the study?

This project is funded by the Ramaciotti Foundation. Partners in this study are:

  • Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
  • University of New South Wales
  • The George Institute for Global Health
  • Western Sydney University


What is the research study about?

Safe mobility is critical for active, independent and healthy ageing, and many older people rely on cars for transportation. Drivers over the age of 70 currently account for over 14% of driver fatalities in Australia. In a recent sample of 380 drivers aged 75 years and older, we saw more than a quarter were using a comfort aid, such as padding, cushions, and back supports whenever they travel in a car. Though it is unknown exactly what effect different comfort accessories may have on crash protection, it is likely that many of these could negatively impact crash protection by inducing slack, which in turn may be influencing the disproportional number of older Australians being killed and injured in car crashes. Currently it is unclear why these aids are being used and what information is being provided to older Australians about these aids. While there may be genuine functional reasons for their use, there are no existing guidelines detailing acceptable comfort aids for use in vehicles.

This study is the first stage of a larger project and aims to:

  • Determine the extent and nature of the use of comfort and orthopaedic aids by older drivers and passengers.
  • Determine reasons for the use of aids from a consumer perspective.


Data will be collected from participants through a telephone survey.The results from this study will be used to formulate a set of evidence-based guidelines for use by clinicians, geriatricians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and other relevant health professionals to ensure Australia’s ageing population maintains mobility without increased risk of injury in a crash.


Who is taking part in this research study?

Suitable participants will be contacted via telephone by the Edith Cowan University Survey Research Centre. Partipants must be:

  • Persons aged 65 years and over residing in NSW.
  • Persons who have access to their own/family car and travel in this on a regular basis as either a driver or passenger (i.e. travelling in the car at least once a week).


What does this study involve?

Participants who consent to take part in this study will be asked to complete a 15 minute telephone survey. The survey consists of a set of questions regarding driving and travelling behaviours, levels of comfort when travelling, whether advice/recommendations were received including the use of comfort/orthopaedic aids or car adjustments for improving comfort, levels of pain experienced, mobility and function, as well as general demographic information.


Results of the study

Results of the study will be made available here soon.


Further Information

If you require further information regarding this study or have any questions you can contact the following member/s of the research team:


Research Team Contact

Name Ramanjot Sran
Position Research Assistant
Phone +61 2 9399 1844
Email r.sran@neura.edu.au
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