Dear Athletes Helping Athletes,
The first time I used a handcycle was at he US Paralympics academy at Sacramento State University. When I used the handcycle, I could incorporate my left hand more, because I have a hemi paresis on my left side due to a TBI. During the ride, I could drink from the water bottle and keep on peddling. The use of a handcycle would help me build up my upper body, being a runner, upper body strength is vital in my performance, because upper body strength helps with balance. My legs are really strong, but I need to work on building up the strength in my upper body. With the use of a handcycle, I could achieve more use of my left hand and a stronger upper body. Thank you for looking at my application.
My son Matthew sustained a traumatic brain injury when he was 8 years old and he is now 16 years old. Due to the injury, he has partial paralysis on the left side of his body. He is not able to move his foot or use his fingers. Matt is very active and has participated in many athletic events prior to his injury as well as after. They told us he would never walk again. He has participated in special track events, fun runs and participates on the high School Cross Country team during the fall. With all of this running, he tends to get blisters, as well as hip and foot pain, but he loves to be active. We are hoping for a good balance of activity.
In March 2008, he participated in the Paralympics Academy held at Sacrament State University and that is where he first tried the handcycle. He loved it! We participated in a ride on the American River Bike trail later in March, where he was able to borrow the bike of a gentleman who organized the ride. He pedaled for 4 miles on his first ride. It took some time, but he was very determined to go that far. That was the goal he set for himself that day. Matt was pretty excited that he could let go with his right hand, keep pedaling with his left arm and wipe his nose with his right hand and not crash or have to stop. Sometimes it is the little things that are important that we overlook. We made little challenges on the ride where he had to pedal short distances with just his left arm. Some of our goals included increasing the strength and use of his left arm, increasing his endurance, and cardiovascular ability - some cross training options - and to ride with us on longer rides without straining his wrists to the extreme limits and to be able to ride confidently without the fear of falling.
Matt would like to participate in the handcycling group through a local park district and go on group rides with them and he would like to go farther distances. Maybe working up to a half marathon.
A handcycle would provide Matt with opportunities to strengthen his arm in a fun way, to meet new people, build confidence in who he is, be stronger for cross country season and to get some great outdoor exercise.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.