Adaptive Cycling for Physical Activity

Children and adults with Cerebral Palsy are affected by weakness and a variety of other difficulties. Weakness generally results in a lack of physical activity. In the past, children with spasticity were discouraged from participating in exercise to promote physical fitness and strengthening. The concern was that exercise could enhance their spasticity and abnormal movement patterns. Research now indicates that resistive exercise does not increase spasticity; it actually improves strength and function for children with CP.

Inactivity for children and adults with CP may contribute to the development of secondary conditions associated with CP such as joint contractures, osteoporosis, and decreased respiratory and circulatory function. Active exercise and physical fitness can help prevent these secondary conditions. Children especially respond well to exercise programs that involve the elements of play and socialization.

For these reasons, adaptive cycling is an ideal exercise for people with CP. The use of adaptive cycling has the potential to improve strength and cardio-respiratory endurance. The individual’s quality of life is improved therapeutically, functionally and socially. Normalization of activity is an important part of every individual’s life.

Specific benefits to individuals with cerebral palsy through physical activity and exercise with an adaptive cycle:

  • Prevention of debilitating conditions resulting from immobility such as skin breakdown, contractures, and orthopedic deformities can be possible with proper use of equipment.
  • Use of an adaptive cycle supports improved respiration, swallowing, and development of head and trunk control.
  • Gross motor practice with this device promotes activation and control of lower extremity muscles in a reciprocal pattern.
  • Long-term benefits include strengthening of anti-gravity muscles, bone and muscle growth, and improved eye-hand coordination.
  • There is a great opportunity for cognitive growth, and improved self-esteem and social acceptance. (we all know how cool a new bike or trike is)

A physical examination by one’s medical doctor is the correct place to start when considering adaptive cycling. Once the physician has determined that a modified exercise program is safe and reasonable, an evaluation by a qualified rehabilitation professional would be next. A physical therapist or occupational therapist, which is familiar with adaptive cycling, should be consulted. Commonly a trial with an adaptive piece of equipment can be arranged. Following these steps is a great way to ensure that the physical activity and the equipment are appropriate.

There are many great products available to help achieve one’s goals and improve a special life.

Here are a few manufacturers of adaptive cycles:

Contact Carr Rehab and let us help guide you to your new adaptive cycle.

Greg Barnett PT ATP/SMS

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