Let’s Go Ride a Bike

Posted on March 23rd, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

Let’s Go Ride a Bike


Denise Koonce OTR


Even today at 46 years young, I remember the day I finally learned how to ride my bike independently.  My bike was white with pink accents, it had pink and silvery tassels hanging from the handle bars, and a white basket with three flowers wired to the front.  Dad and I were on the sidewalk in front of our house, like many times before, but this time when he let go I was able to keep my balance.  I only went about 8 – 10 feet that first time but then it became easier and easier.  I was so proud of myself.  I had worked hard and now I could join my friends in riding up and down the sidewalk to each others house.  A milestone accomplished.  Not every child has the opportunity to own a bike and learn to ride.  My mother, for example, will be 91 years old this year and never had the opportunity to own a bike or learn to ride and she still regrets not having the opportunity.   I realize that our world today is filled with numerous ways for a child to spend their time that I did not have as a child but if you ask a child without a bike if they would like to learn to ride one, the answer would be “yes”.  There is something very fundamental in the fabric of our society about riding a bike. 

For many of the children we treat, due to their physical limitations, learning to ride a bike becomes a lost milestone.  Fortunately, there are some manufacturers who believe it is important to produce bikes that can accommodate children’s physical limitations so they have an opportunity to experience the thrill of riding a bike.  I was introduced to two such manufacturers early on in my career, Freedom Concepts, Inc. and AmTrykes, LLC.  Freedom Concepts, Inc. is a custom bike manufacturer which creates, in their words, “a cycle of mobility.”  Over the last 20 years they have designed and produced a variety of cycling options for individuals with special needs, young and old.  They have been just as creative in assisting families in securing funding for bikes by providing forms to submit to conventional funding sources and setting up an online registry for families to secure donations.  Another cycling manufacturer is AmTrykes, LLC.  AmTrykes, LLC is owned and operated by the national non-profit organization AMBUCS which is dedicated to providing mobility and independence to individuals with special needs through their AmBility program.   AmTrykes therapeutic tricycles are tricycles which can be operated by hand or foot and are designed for various age ranges and abilities.  AMBUCS also works through its local chapters to provide funding for AmTryke therapeutic tricycles so those with limited or no funding may also experience the joy and freedom of riding.  As a therapist, I know the physical benefits that a bike can provide such as strengthening, trunk control, activity tolerance, range of motion, etc.  However, all of this pales in comparison to the happy expressions on their faces, the sound of their laughter and the joy observed while they are on the bike.    

When my daughter had an extended stay in the hospital and needed to rebuild her strength, range of motion, and activity tolerance her physical therapist pulled out an adapted tricycle.  It became one of her biggest motivators mainly because of the joy it inherently provided enabling her to work through her pain while meeting her goals.  She hasn’t yet had the full opportunity to ride her bike without the extra wheels but she will and when she does she too will have the reinforcement of her diligence and hard work paying off. 

One of the ways these companies introduce their bikes to the potential users is through”Bike Day.”  On Bike Day the manufacturer brings a sample of their bikes to a facility, clinic, or community area to allow the end user an opportunity to try the bikes.  This provides the rider with a brief feeling of what riding a bike is like.  It also provides the rider with an opportunity to speak with the manufacturer, determine what products works best for their need, and then take it for a spin.  Reach Therapy Center has been coordinating a “Bike Day” with Freedom Concepts since 2004.  It has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved.  We had our most recent Bike Day this week and you can see pictures from the event on our face book page.  Have you or your patients had the opportunity to be involved in a “Bike Day” or has your patient received a bike?  If so, please share your story with us!  Until then may the wind be always at your back. 

Resources mentioned above:

Freedom Concepts, Inc.                                    www.freedomconcepts.com

AMBUCS                                                              www.ambcus.org

Additional Resources:

Creative Mobility and The Bike Rack                 www.thebikerack.com

Versa Trike                                                         www.versatrike.com

Rifton                                                                    www.rifton.com

MeToo Trikes                                                    www.metootrikes.com

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