Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) affects more than 3000 people in Spain and the vast majority of them have problems traveling safely by car, especially in the most severe cases. In particular, these children have serious difficulties when choosing a suitable child restraint system which, as well as being comfortable, guarantees minimum safety standards when they travel. The International Seminar for 'Children with Special Needs and their Safety when traveling by Car’, held by Fundación MAPFRE, focused on this problem and looked at a number of solutions.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is better known as ‘brittle bone disease’ ‘due to the varying fragility of the bones and how often they fracture' stated Miguel Rodríguez Molina, Physiotherapist at the Spanish Brittle Bone Disease Association (AHUCE). Together with Rodríguez Molina, experts in the field covered the problems which children with OI experience when traveling by car and discussed the minimum requirements a child restraint system designed specifically for them should have.
Bartolomé Vargas, Prosecutor of the Road Safety Court of the Public Prosecutor's Office, highlighted how the interests of those most in need are being strongly defended by his department and how they have worked, during the last few years, with a number of associations and with Fundación MAPFRE to try to ensure that children travel as safely as possible. With this aim in mind, a prototype of a child restraint system called 'Gemini’ is being developed which was presented to numerous child seat manufacturers and experts at the 15th International Conference on the 'Protection of Children in Cars'; which took place in Munich.
As the Prosecutor has asserted, on a number of occasions these children are traveling in 'undignified conditions'. The weakness of their bones means that families are coming up with their own homemade devices to try to minimize the child's contact with the child car seat or lessen injuries in the event of a crash. As Mario San Fernández-Vega, Prosecutor assigned to the Road Safety Courtpoints out, they make their own bassinets which don't secure the baby adequately, sometimes even out of surfboards...'This problem can only be dealt with from a multidisciplinary perspective' she states. The fact is there is no specific legislation which determines how these children should travel nor any specific technical solutions.
Javier Carrión Tudela, Secretary of the Madrid Osteogenesis Imperfecta Association (AMOI), highlighted that a specific child restraint system for children with OI could be used for other children with special needs that share the same characteristics, while Marta de Loma-Ossorio, from the University Institute of Automobile Research (INSIA), presented the work done in this regard.
Ana María Bueno, orthopedic pediatric specialist at Getafe Hospital, has explained the day to day reality of children with osteogenesis imperfecta and how important it is for them to travel with a specifically adapted CRS which offers them leg protection and has cushioned fabric for their specific needs.
A CRS for children with OI, one step closer every day
Sergi Ferris, CEO of Safedsign, explained what the ‘Gemini’ prototype consists of and why it could well be a suitable child restraint system for child with osteogenesis imperfecta. ‘We have wanted to make the journey comfortable and safe' he stated. Furthermore, they have also taken into account itsaffordability and whether or not it is within a family's budget.
It should be noted that the test seat has successfully passed all levels required for R44/04 and R-129 approval.
The child seat in question is rear-facing and has been designed for Groups 1 and 2. It has folding side wings so that the child can be placed in it without causing them injury. It also has a 3-point harness with an emergency retractor to adequately secure the child.
The CRS is positioned at a 45 degree angle given that this is less damaging for neck tension and is considered to be a comfortable angle. In addition, it boasts memory foam which molds itself to the specific characteristics of each child.
The prototype is currently seeking manufacturers interested in how to make technical improvements and optimize the CRS.
The seminar was brought to a close by Julio Domingo, General Manager of Fundación MAPFRE, who pointed out that 'a child with osteogenesis imperfecta should be completely safe just like any other child’. Nevertheless, he regrets that fact that there are no solutions on the market capable of offering these safety guarantees
Lastly, Gregorio Serrano, Director-General of the Department of Traffic, emphasized the significant investment in research made by his department in order for these children to travel safely and with a CRS that properly protects them.