Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of developmental conditions which affect movement and coordination. It’s caused by a problem in the brain which makes itself known in the first few years of life.
There is a wide range of symptoms of cerebral palsy, all related to physical movement. The severity of these symptoms can vary hugely with some people suffering only minor effects, whilst others are significantly disabled.
Physical Activity with Cerebral Palsy
People with cerebral palsy can have difficulty using their limbs – they may be too stiff, or too floppy, and many suffer jerky, random or uncontrolled movements (such as those with Athetoid or Dystonic Cerebral Palsy). This makes physical activity or exercise with cerebral palsy very hard for those with significant symptoms.
Physical therapy and medication can help manage cerebral palsy by reducing symptoms and making exercise more accessible for some people.
Cycling for Cerebral Palsy
Cycling – alongside swimming – is widely acknowledged as the very best therapeutic exercise which is crucial in helping to keep people with Cerebral Palsy and similar conditions supple and mobile.
For those where Cerebral Palsy has only a mild effect, three wheeled trikes rather than two wheeled bikes may be all the assistance needed, but more complex conditions may require more complex provision. Tomcat can do this with support accessories, customised transmission drives, supplementary battery powered assistance, or in unique or highly complicated cases, the kind of customised solution Tomcat is renowned for and from which many of the industry standard solutions have been developed.
When Tomcat builds a solution for a person with Cerebral Palsy, we keep one very important factor in mind: that the very best therapy for the human body is to be used as nature intended. That means that our work is about enabling the joints, muscles and tendons of the human body to do their job, with a speed, range, and effort that is challenging enough to achieve benefits, but comfortable and sustainable enough to be a pleasure.
Supports – particularly in conditions of involuntary body and limb movement such as Dystonic or Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – are usually essential yet they should be applied just enough to calm the involuntary movements, but not so much that the element of exercise is reduced. It will be clear to both the person with Cerebral Palsy and a skilled assessor when the balance is right.
Intelligent support can also play a key role in managing muscle weakness in conditions such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, and hemiplegia. Due to the imbalanced nature of hemiplegia, where only one side is affected, an imbalanced support solution is usually the best way to regain symmetry of posture and movement. This is an excellent illustration of why an “off the shelf” product may not be a good choice in more complex CP conditions.
In very complex situations, where no prior technology can provide the right solution, Tomcat has used its considerable innovation skills and in-house manufacturing abilities to custom make a solution for almost every customer. Some will enter the portfolio to help others while some will not, but all will add to the knowledge of how to bring the freedom, therapy, and sheer joy of cycling to almost everyone who encounters Cerebral Palsy in their lives.