Wendell Foster’s Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility’s therapy clients often use AmTryke adaptive trikes in their therapy sessions because of the advantages of riding a bike: working on coordination and strength while learning to get the body to work the way you need it to, said therapist Erin Sieberkrob.
With 10 trikes utilized in the therapy program, each has elements that work for a variety of diagnoses. There are foot trikes, hand trikes and foot-and-hand trikes. Some have handles for the therapist to use, and some are propelled by the rider only.
Sieberkrob said that most therapists use the bikes to train their clients’ muscles, but then when they leave therapy, there is a disconnect between what they have learned and what they can do at home since most of their clients do not have the specialized trikes at home.
“They can’t get the carryover because they can’t get it at home,” she said.
The trikes’ average cost is $1,000, depending on the model used, and they are not covered by insurance.
The AmTrykes are rudimentary in design and are made of regular metal and parts — nothing aerodynamic or specialized to take away the weight. Some have pads, headrests and harnesses that offer trunk support and there are straps for the feet, but they are all standard design.
But the feeling of riding a bike is something all of the clients enjoy, Sieberkrob said. And the freedom to ride at home with family and friends and be part of the interactions is also important to Wendell Foster clients.
Two-year-old Sydney Lancaster routinely rides one of the AmTrykes during her session, and although Sieberkrob uses the handle to push and pull Lancaster around, she is training her to eventually learn to move her feet.
“I can feel her legs pushing,” Sieberkrob said.
But Lancaster can only ride the bike at Wendell Foster, and while receiving one of the trikes is not something the Lancasters have planned for yet, it doesn’t matter, because the American Business Clubs (AMBUCS), the nationwide nonprofit charity who owns AmTryke, has a national waiting list that links donors with children and adults, and there are currently 12 Wendell Foster clients on the AmTryke Wish List.
Harper Webb,7, was the recipient of one of the adapted trikes almost three years ago and those three years have seen a growth spurt –especially in her leg length. The Webb family will donate Harper’s trike to another local client if she can receive a new one fitted to her current size.
“She is getting close to outgrowing it,” Johnna said. “I don’t think people realize the cost — and as an extra cost [for so many other adaptations]. AmTryke is the only one that does a wish list.”
Johnna said that it has been empowering to both Harper and the rest of the family.
“She can actually be normal and it is a big to-do watching her bike,” Johnna said. “She loves being outside and you can hear her squealing.”
In the colder months, Harper enjoys riding her trike in the family garage. Her mother has also seen the benefits in her leg strength in propelling the trike, and she said that Harper doesn’t even realize her bike is different — she just gets to be with the other kids. Harper’s bike includes a handle in the back for when she needs help, but she doesn’t even realize she is being assisted.
Some of Wendell Foster’s clients have been on the list for two years and now, if they do receive a trike, they will have to be remeasured because they have grown.
There are more riders from Wendell Foster that wish for a trike but cannot be added due to reaching capacity for a specific campus.
According to the AMBUCS website, their goal is to grant as many wishes as possible but the requests can only be filled as funding is available.
“The social aspect of the bikes is so important,” Sieberkrob said.
To make a donation to a local AmTryke Wish List Rider, go to https://ambucs.org/riders/wish-list/wish-list-riders. If you prefer to donate by mail, click here.
Use 42301 for Owensboro’s ZIP code and search for people in a 25-50-mile radius. The list includes clients who use Wendell Foster services.
All donations are tax-deductible.