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Importance of Cycling for Children with Physical Disabilities

For children with physical disabilities, such as those related to the neurological disorder cerebral palsy, physiotherapy is a crucial element of their treatment. It can help to improve mobility, combat overly rigid muscles and enhance independence, amongst other crucial benefits. It is vital, therefore, that physiotherapy is given the attention and effort which it deserves and that activities like cycling are given due consideration. Riding a tricycle can comprise an important part of any physiotherapy regime, and the following will tell you everything you need to know about it.

 

The Major Benefits of Cycling as Physiotherapy

One of the main hallmarks of cycling as an activity is that it encourages and allows the exercising of the lower extremities. The motion of cycling sees muscle groups in the legs get flexed, stretched and fully extended and this is vital to children with disabilities. That’s the case as full extension of those muscles can help them to grow at the same rate as the bones of the leg and helps to combat the development of contractures which could prevent limbs from straightening properly.

In addition to that notable benefit, too, cycling can also boast a number of other important advantages when utilised as part of a physiotherapy program. Repeated sessions of cycling, for example, can lead to strengthened quadriceps, hip extensors and ankle muscles alongside improved balance and core stabilisation. The motion involved in cycling, too, comprises muscle activation and motor control similar to that required for walking, and as such can train the lower extremities to move in a reciprocal pattern in order to positively impact gait training.

It is not just in the physical sphere, either, that cycling can prove beneficial for children with disabilities. Riding an adapted tricycle, such as those provided by Freedom Concepts, can assist with a child’s spatial awareness as they learn to manoeuvre their trike with increasing independence. It is, too, a more engaging and fun activity which can help to keep a child more interested in their physio. What’s more, bicycle or tricycle riding can also encourage socialisation and the development of friendships both with similarly disabled and also with able bodied children.

Tricycles

There are many potential adaptations which can be made to tricycles to accommodate any child’s individual physical disabilities and to ensure that it is best suited for their own treatment.

In the case of cerebral palsy, for instance, tricycles can be fitted with upper body support and/or a brace to keep a child’s ankle in one plane of motion whilst pedalling. Such adaptations are amongst the many offered by Freedom Concepts, a company dedicated to and renowned for designing and building high class adaptive tricycles for disabled children.

The reason that those types of adaptation are crucial is that they allow a child to focus solely on the cycling motion rather than be distracted or impeded by involuntary movements or muscle spasms of other areas of the body. Focussing on specific parts of the body, too, can help to strengthen those areas as well as the connections to the brain which control them and this is just one of many potential benefits offered by cycling.

 

One Notable Challenge

As with all forms of physiotherapy and ongoing treatment, cycling as therapy is not without its challenges and there is one that it’s especially important to keep in mind. This is that it will always take time for a child to get fully accustomed to using any form of modified tricycle.

When first attempting to cycle it’s common for new riders to expend too much energy and to overuse muscle groups unrelated to the activity itself, due to the involuntary contraction and activation of those muscles. With an individual product assessment and  perseverance , however, that initial challenge can be overcome and all of the benefits outlined above can be achieved over the longer term.

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About Austen

My name is Austen Burns, Digital Marketing Consultant at Moorings Mediquip and I will be uploading blogs and news for you to read. I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy (CP). This affects my movement and co-ordination and as a result use a walking frame or mobility scooter to get around. I have a Degree in Computing & a Masters in Marketing, in my spare time I have always been involved in disability sports, competing in both disability swimming and equestrian at international level. My main focus has been on Equestrian where I am currently on the Irish Para dressage team. Despite having had success internationally I am yet to make a Paralympic team and with Tokyo 2020 coming closer it would be a dream to make this happen. As a consultant for Moorings Mediquip I hope to write fresh online content, information and debate within the disability and health fields, as well as work on many new digital marketing initiatives throughout 2017.