Adaptive Bikes for Cerebral Palsy
Children with cerebral palsy experience symptoms such as weak or stiff muscles that are difficult to control. This presents unique challenges as children learn to move independently and interact with peers. Certain physical therapies and pieces of equipment can help children with CP strengthen and control their muscles. Adaptive bikes provide not only physical benefits but also social and emotional ones, as well, providing a sense of freedom to children with cerebral palsy.
What Are Adaptive Bikes?
An adaptive bike is any bicycle that’s been specially designed to meet the needs of an individual with disabilities. They also allow those with disabilities to participate easily alongside others who may be on standard bikes. There are many different types of adaptive bikes that can help accommodate the unique needs of individuals with physical or developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.
Since each case of cerebral palsy is different, an adaptive bike may accommodate children with CP in a variety of ways. The bike could make it easier to pedal, provide added stability, or offer extra support for parts of the body lacking adequate muscle control. An adaptive bike can present a newfound sense of inclusion and autonomy for children with cerebral palsy.
Types of Adaptive Bikes
There are many different options when it comes to adaptive bikes for cerebral palsy. You’ll find that there’s a product available for nearly any type of user with creative adaptations that can help your child overcome their limitations.
Tricycles, or trikes, are a popular choice for all children. While they have a single wheel on the front like a standard bicycle, they have two wheels on the back that provide extra stability. Adaptive trikes for children with cerebral palsy may include additional accommodations such as:
- Wheelchair-style seating
- Wrist straps
- Self-leveling pedals
- Modified handlebars
A handcycle is similar to a tricycle in that it has the classic three-wheeled construction. However, a handcycle is powered by the hands and arms rather than the legs and feet. This construction is ideal for children who have limited mobility in their legs. Some handcycles still allow the user to pedal with their feet to encourage more movement, while others allow the legs to remain stationary.
A recumbent bike allows the rider to recline so their weight is distributed over a larger area. Recumbent bikes provide added support for the rider’s buttocks and back. Recumbent bikes also come in different forms, such as:
- Delta trikes, which are powered by two wheels in the back and steered with a single wheel in front
- Tadpole trikes, which have two front wheels that steer the trike while the pedals power one wheel in the back
A tandem bike is ideal for a parent who wants to accompany a child with cerebral palsy, providing a controlled yet exciting experience. The primary rider, or pilot, does at least half of the pedaling and all the steering. The secondary rider, known as a stoker, contributes to the pedaling. These bikes come in different forms with the stoker either in front of or behind the pilot. You can also find tandem bikes with a reclined seat for the stoker, which is ideal for many children with cerebral palsy.
Stationary bikes can also be adapted to meet the unique needs of each user, including those with CP. Stationary cycling doesn’t allow the child to move or explore as other adaptive bikes do, but this option is a safer alternative for many. An adaptive stationary bike can be used for physical therapy resistance exercises and cardiovascular fitness. Adaptive bikes for children with cerebral palsy are often equipped with straps that support the upper body as well as braces or other restraints to keep the ankles in place.
What Are the Benefits of Adaptive Bikes?
Adaptive bikes offer a wealth of benefits for children with cerebral palsy. They allow the individual to freely engage in social adventures with able-bodied friends and family members. An adaptive bike may also allow a child with CP to participate in group outings, adventures, or even simple after-dinner bike rides, offering both exercise and an important sense of inclusion. This can give the child extra confidence and a feeling of independence that can be challenging to obtain with cerebral palsy.
Adaptive bikes offer a wide range of health benefits, as well. Riding an adaptive bike helps the child:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Increase joint motion
- Improve circulation
- Gain core strength
- Improve coordination and balance
- Promote muscle control and movement
Adaptive bikes and other types of equipment for children with cerebral palsy can be expensive. If you believe that your loved one’s CP is the result of medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation that will help cover some of these costs. Contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC to discuss your case.