World Bicycle Day 2023: How cycling benefits children with cerebral palsy

Jun 04, 2023 10:18 AM IST

On World Bicycle Day, discover the transformative power of cycling for children with cerebral palsy.

World Bicycle Day, celebrated on June 3rd, promotes the benefits of cycling for personal health, sustainability, and community engagement. Beyond the sheer joy it brings, cycling can significantly enhance their physical strength, coordination, and overall well-being. This simple yet powerful activity not only promotes cardiovascular fitness but also improves muscle tone and balance. Moreover, cycling provides children with cerebral palsy with a sense of freedom and independence, boosting their self-confidence and social interactions. Let's explore the remarkable impact of cycling on the lives of these children, as we celebrate World Bicycle Day and its positive influence on their journey towards a better quality of life. (Also read: World Bicycle Day: Many benefits of cycling for your body and mind )

Cycling provides children with cerebral palsy with a sense of freedom and independence, boosting their self-confidence and social interactions. (Freepik )
Cycling provides children with cerebral palsy with a sense of freedom and independence, boosting their self-confidence and social interactions. (Freepik )

Benefits of cycling for children with cerebral palsy

"Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that causes problems with mobility and motor function. Cerebral palsy symptoms include weakness, abnormally tight muscles, poor muscular control, and muscle spasms. Because exercise can improve mobility, physical therapy is an important aspect of a treatment programme for children with cerebral palsy. Bicycle treatment may be a fun and beneficial aspect of physical therapy. Cycling can assist children with cerebral palsy improve their mobility, independence, and quality of life. Cycling has been shown in several clinical trials to increase muscular strength, balance, and gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy; however, appropriate training dosages have yet to be found," says, Dr Nilesh R Palasdeokar, Consultant Neurologist, Ruby Hall Clinic Pune, Wanowrie.

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He added, "For youngsters, learning to ride a bicycle is a huge milestone, and they enjoy the independence it provides. Biking may not have been an option for special needs children in the past, but contemporary bikes provide a number of solutions to fit the requirements of many children with cerebral palsy and special needs. Because demands differ, each youngster needs a particular bike."

Dr Nilesh further shared with HT Lifestyle, various types of bicycles available for children with cerebral palsy and explained how they can benefit them.

1. Tricycles

The majority of youngsters are introduced to riding on a tricycle. Some children with cerebral palsy may never go beyond the stability of a three-wheeler, but contemporary tricycles can transport even the most mature children around the block in elegance. There are a number of tricycles with adapted supports available for younger children. Self-levelling pedals with straps, twin axle systems to minimise resistance and make pedalling easier, adjustable body support, and specialised handlebars for simple control are among these features.

2. Tandem bicycles

To ride a bicycle, children with visual problems require the aid of a person who can see. Modern tandem bicycles, which might be two or three wheels, allow the youngster to sit at the front. The person in the back has complete control over the steering, braking, and gears. After then, the the youngster may peddle and enjoy the trip.

3. Hand crank bicycle and tricycles

Many bikes and tricycles may be adapted with hand crank systems, allowing a youngster to ride without using her legs. Some bikes may be adapted to offer mixed hand and pedal power for a youngster with limited leg usage. One-hand controls, shifter and brake adapters, seat belts and safety harnesses and electric motors can also be added to bicycles.

4. Custom-built bicycles

Many bicycle manufacturers can create a bike that is physically accessible. Bicycles and tricycles can be designed to suit different heights, paraplegia, and other disabilities.

5. Trailers

Young children like riding on bicycle trailers that are towed behind a bike. There are caravan choices for special needs children of various ages. A pedi-truck enables someone to tow a trailer while transporting a wheelchair-bound youngster. For easy access and safety, the trailer incorporates a ramp and tie-downs. These bikes may be outfitted with an electric assist to help pull the wheelchair's extra weight.

Apart from cycling, swimming, dance, zumba, and yoga are a few other activities which can make physical therapy more enjoyable and improve the motor as well as mental well-being of these differently abled children.

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