Adaptive Cycling – Let’s get riding!

Published: 21 February 2024
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Written by
Mellinda Fitzgerald
Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty)
Astris PME Clinical Educator

In the wake of updated World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines emphasizing the importance of physical activity for individuals with chronic conditions or disabilities, adaptive cycling emerges as an exciting avenue to promote both physical and mental well-being. The WHO recommends 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity, across the week and that sedentary time should be limited. Cycling embodies all of this.  Let's explore how trikes, particularly the Rifton Adaptive Tricycle and Schuchmann Momo Trike, play a crucial role in making cycling a reality for children facing unique challenges.

The Path to Inclusion:

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) Framework, combined with the F-Word ICF Framework by Rosenbaum and Gorter, provides a comprehensive lens to incorporate physical activity seamlessly into the lives of individuals with disabilities. Fitness for all, prioritizing function, fostering friendships, involving family, and infusing fun become the guiding principles.

The Joy of Riding:

Adaptive trikes are becoming increasingly popular with families and therapists. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) recognises the holistic life needs, including recreation and leisure.

Therapeutic Benefits of Cycling:

Recent clinical research underscores the therapeutic benefits of cycling, with gains in muscle strength, joint range of movement, and bone health. This has also led to demonstrated improvements in gait parameters such as walking distance, speed, and weight shift in stance as the cyclical nature of the movement of pedaling a bike/trike mimics the lower limb movement of walking and is even believed to use some of the same neural pathways of gait. These gains along with improvements in balance, gross motor function, overall improved physical activity levels and cardiovascular fitness make cycling a great activity choice.

Links to secondary benefits such as those in the psychosocial realm of confidence, participation, and engagement, add another layer of positivity to the cycling experience.

Rifton Adaptive Tricycle

The Rifton Adaptive Tricycle was one of the original adaptive trikes developed for children with disabilities who couldn’t ride a traditional bike or trike. Since the release of this trike, there have been many models of adaptive trikes developed to meet various needs of riders. Rifton has also been listening to the feedback from therapists and consumers alike on ways to improve the trike. Some amazing new features have come out of this, and the Rifton trike now meets an even greater population base. All while still retaining the recumbent biking positioning that is the easiest to use for those with very limited capabilities.

The new Rifton Adaptive Trike features include:

  • Additional sizes: now available in small, medium and large.
  • Increased weight capacity on the large from 90kg to 140kg, and on the medium from 72kg to 113kg. This is a result of design changes on the frame itself.
  • Small and large trunk supports with chest harness available on small and medium trikes.
  • Small and large swing-away laterals making postural support and transfers easier.
  • Variable pedal resistance and a park brake.
  • Low friction track for ease of height adjustment of the seat.
  • Carbon fibre drive belt will not rust or stretch so reduced maintenance.
  • Rear wheels and front end can be removed easily for transport.
  • Abductor with adduction straps for controlling leg movement.
  • Pelvic harness for firmly positioning the pelvis and providing a stable base for postural control.

Add to the already extensive list of accessories available to support even the most physically challenged participant and Rifton is a great choice of trike that will last for years of happy exploring in the world of cycling.

Schuchmann Momo Trike

For upright riding on what looks like a more traditional bike or trike, it would be hard to go past the versatility, robustness and function of the Schuchmann range of trikes and bikes.

The Momo Trike has a compact design with a low, wide frame for easy independent transfers, and an  extensive range of postural supports that make trike riding possible for even those with complex support needs.

What sets the Momo trike apart though is the availability of choice of drive type, with standard rigid (allowing for freewheeling), a 7-Speed gear hub version, and even the option of electric support. Add to this a range of sizes from 12” to 26”, and both the smallest and largest riders are able to access the world of supported trike riding.

The Follow Me Momo is a clever parent-child tandem coupling system to connect the Momo Tricycle to any adult bicycle. Momo Tricycle can be connected in only a few steps and without the use of tools.

Regardless of the chosen trike, the evidence points towards the universal encouragement to "just get riding" and integrate adaptive cycling into the weekly routine. By embracing these innovative solutions, we empower children with disabilities to unlock their potential, fostering a lifelong love for cycling and promoting holistic well-being.

Astris PME have a vast range of Exercise and Recreational equipment. If you are looking for any support in this area or keen to know more, reach out to us at www.astris-pme.com.au or 1300 131 884.

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