Many believe that cycling is an activity that can only be enjoyed by the able-bodied. But this is far from the case. Cycling can be, for many disabled people, an easier way to get around, especially if walking is difficult, and the health benefits from this classic form of exercise are manifold.
Both young and old can enjoy bicycling and can use this activity to improve their physical health. Joe Tarver of Rock and Roll Cycles says that for the disabled, using a modified bicycle can facilitate increased mobility, and give the rider a new sense of freedom.
Every disabled person experiences life with their disability differently, and there is no one style of bicycle that will fit everyone. This is why Joe Tarver of Rock and Roll Cycles created his customized cycles – to cater to the diverse needs of those with disabilities.
It could be that adapting a standard 2-wheeled bicycle with some minor modifications may do the job to allow the rider more freedom. However, many opt for having a new custom-made bike to fit their specific needs and wants.
The non-standard design such as a tricycle or even a tandem bike works best for most disabled folks. These adaptive bikes can be operated by using the hands, have various seating positions, assisted or tandem cycles where a disabled person can ride with someone who is not restricted, and wheelchair companion bikes.
Cycling and Improving Mobility
For many reasons, disabled people are often more inactive than the non-disabled. It means they risk falling victim to the health issues that come with a lack of movement and sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling is an excellent way to move better and improve overall fitness. Benefits of cycling include lowering of blood pressure, improved physical strength, and greater range of joint movement and circulation.
Cycling can also help improve balance for those with cerebral palsy or spina bifida and help those who have been in accidents to speed up their long-term recovery.
However, ‘mobility’ does not simply mean physical mobility, or the ease with which someone moves their body. Mobility also applies, particularly in this context, to simply moving out of an otherwise isolated position. It means getting out of the house, meeting people, and counteracting social isolation. Those who live with a disability are often capable of tending to their everyday needs but may require easier access to the tools they need to be able to do so. And this is where local government can help.
Incentives and Access
Local, government-run incentives in areas throughout the US can result in disabled people being awarded grants or loans to purchase bikes or may even participate in bike-sharing programs. Some of these programs can be found in the Directory of Programs for those with disabilities. Several medical insurers will also agree to cover therapeutic bicycle purchases.
The physical, mental, and social benefits to cycling should be available to all, and with a little research, it is very possible that there is a local program that can assist those looking to become more mobile through cycling.