By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT
Want to see pure joy in a child’s face? Put him on a bike! Children of all abilities love the freedom, weightlessness and fun that bicycles (and tricycles) provide. Just like children, bicycles come in all varieties and can be adapted for children with special needs.
Bicycle riding provides not only the physical benefits such as leg strengthening, increased balance, coordination and endurance, but also the social benefits of riding with family and peers. Below are just a few examples of modified cycles that are made to assist children with special needs in their bike riding goals.
Adaptive tricycle: The three wheels on this tricycle provide a wide base for increased stability which helps children feel safe not only when riding the bike, but when getting on and off it as well. The high back and seat belt also provide proper trunk support to help a child stay upright and midline. There are also Velcro foot holders to prevent feet from sliding forward.
Tandem bicycles: Tandem bicycles allow for a parent to propel the bicycle with the option to turn the child’s pedals on or off, which enables a child to rest and enjoy the ride when they are tired. The tandem bicycle also allows for communication while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of exercise.
Bicycle Trailer: A bicycle trailer is a good option for longer family bike rides where everyone in the family can be included. The bicycle trailer allows for a lot of leg room and a child or adult can be easily transferred in and out of the trailer and positioned in many different ways.
Hand and Foot Cycle: A hand and foot cycle can be used for children who have lower extremity weakness, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or low muscle tone. This type of tricycle has the ability to be propelled with either arms and/or legs. A benefit of this type of tricycle is that children can increase their range of motion in their arms as well as work on a reciprocal motor pattern of their upper extremities.
Your child’s physical or occupational therapist is a great resource to help you and your child learn what kind of bicycle or tricycle would be good for your child. A few companies/websites that may be helpful in adapted cycles are below:
Thanks to a generous donor, we are pleased to launch the Jonathan Goers Bike Club at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. This program was established to share Jonathan’s joy of biking with children who have developmental delays and/or disabilities and may not otherwise have the opportunity to ride or own a bicycle. The program will provide a child with an adapted bicycle free of charge.
Any family of a child with a developmental delay or disability is eligible to apply to this program. The bike must be returned to Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley if the child outgrows or no longer uses the bike. This will allow another child to enjoy the benefits of biking. Speak with your Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley therapist for more information on the application.
The first bike giveaway will be at our 2nd Annual Bike for the Kids event on September 17 in Elgin. Adapted bikes and trailers are welcome and all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. Choose your distance from 100 Miles to the 2.5 Mile family ride. Learn more at www.EasterSealsDFVR.org/BikeForTheKids.