Ataxia is a disease that affects the nervous system. Damage is caused to the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain which controls movement.
People with Ataxia therefore often have problems coordinating their hands and fingers, or arms and legs and can have trouble speaking or moving their eyes. Complications can be severely debilitating.
Physical Activity with Ataxia
Many of the symptoms of ataxia look similar to inebriation as the sufferer can have slurred speech, stumble, be unsteady and lack coordination. These symptoms can make physical exercise with Ataxia particularly challenging.
The impact of the condition can worsen slowly over many years, or quickly over several months. Most sufferers rely on wheelchairs or other aids to support their mobility.
Cycling for Ataxia
With coordination such a challenge for those with Ataxia – as well as those with Hypotonia or Hypertonia – it’s easy to assume cycling may be impossible. However, whilst traditional two wheel bikes may not offer enough support, by beginning with a three wheeled trike for stability and adding on a number of other aids, cycling with Ataxia is entirely realistic.
At Tomcat we understand that it’s vital to help people with these conditions to feel secure. When we work with Ataxia to create a trike, we find that by systematically adding support, riders feel progressively calmer and increasingly able to cycle.
We start at the feet and work up, assessing the need for footshoes, leg supports, pommel saddle, backrest, laterals, headrests and wings, mitts for the hands and a harness for the thorax. Creating the perfect trike for people with these conditions is about adequate but not excessive support, correct geometry and proper adjustment. It is a fascinating challenge to see what can be achieved with the right combination of customisation, innovation, precise geometry and relevant aids.
Tomcat trikes can further support these conditions with emergency management features such as Carer Control – which allows a carer to take charge of steering and/or braking; Dual Axle – which switches from a fixed to freewheel drive, a Swivel Seat which allows for easy access and many more.