Adaptive Bicycles Help Medically Complex Children Experience the Joy of Riding, Too

June 24, 2021

Pediatrics' adaptive bicycles at Good Shepherd Health & Technology Center

Riding a bike offers children a fun, physical mode of transportation and a chance to develop childhood play skills, too.

For medically complex children, riding a bike for the first time might not be as simple. However, there are several options to learn how to ride a bike, feel comfortable on wheels and develop those childhood play skills — and a dash of independence, too.

One way is through the use of adaptive bicycles, which help children living with physical or development disabilities to get started, gain confidence and be safe.

“Riding a bike is a complex task that requires coordination between a variety of body systems,” says Jennifer B. Schueck, OTR/L, clinical resource specialist with Good Shepherd Pediatrics. “Some children struggle with riding a bike or learning to ride without training wheels. So, when you have a child living with cerebral palsy, autism or Down syndrome, learning to ride a bike can be a bit more challenging to start.”

If your child is having difficult riding a bike, a good first step is a physical therapy evaluation, says Kandis Jones, PT, DPT, PCS, outpatient pediatric physical therapy supervisor.

“Our team has access to a variety of bicycles on our South Allentown campus for kids to try out,” Jones say. “Plus, we can help connect families with adaptive-bike organizations and community groups.”

How to Help Your Child Start Riding a Bike

At the Good Shepherd Health & Technology Center in South Allentown, the outpatient Pediatrics team utilizes a variety of bicycles, including tricycles, bikes with training wheels and adaptive bikes, to help kids pedal and move.

If you need help getting your children started with how to ride a bike, request a physical therapy evaluation or call 1-888-44-REHAB.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) has tips and visual examples for how to fit a bike helmet properly for children.