Special Needs Child Passenger Safety Program

Many different types of car seats and restraints are available for evaluation and fitting, and possibly for lending to infants, toddlers, and older children through the hospital's Therapy Services department. Specially trained physical and occupational therapists evaluate each patient and determine the appropriate seating solution that will work for the child, the caregivers, and the family vehicle.

Some common medical conditions served by this program are:

  • Prematurity, low birth weight
  • Orthopedic conditions, casts (including hip spica casts)
  • Cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders
  • Autism and related disorders
  • Down Syndrome

Car Seats Available For Children With Special Needs

These include but are not limited to: 

  • Infant seats with small harness dimensions and preemie inserts for small or fragile infants.
  • Car beds (Angel Ride, Dream Ride, and Hope) for babies who need to lie down or are too small for a standard infant seat.
  • Restraints for children in hip spica casts that prevent them from fitting in a standard car seat.
  • A variety of larger medical seats and special needs booster seats including products from Merritt Manufacturing, R82, Convaid, Inspired by Drive, and Thomashilfin, for older children and young adults who cannot use a standard booster seat or vehicle seat belt due to poor sitting balance and trunk/head control.
  • Large convertible car seats that allow rear facing and reclined position for higher weights for those who need more head and neck support and a recline but who have outgrown their infant seats.
  • Options for behavioral issues, including vests (EZon), and large medical seats with anti-escapee accessories.

Car Seat Evaluations

Car seat evaluations are available for children who need short or long term travel solutions. Evaluations are available on an inpatient basis with a doctor's order. Outpatient evaluations require a prescription from the doctor and will be authorized through the patient's insurance. Those who are denied by their insurance will not be turned away. The evaluating therapist will work with the family, provide a loaner restraint if appropriate, and complete paperwork to request a permanent seat through insurance if needed.

Therapists who perform these evaluations and who may assist with installation of these car seats are certified child passenger safety technicians who have received further training in transporting children with special healthcare needs.

After regular therapy hours, children in casts who need an alternate restraint will be evaluated by trained staff from the Emergency Department.

Please call (757) 668-8655 for more information.