Epilepsy is a fairly common condition which affects the brain, causing seizures.
People with Epilepsy may experience frequent and numerous seizures or it may be a rare event but the condition is usually lifelong, although it may improve over time.
Symptoms of a seizure also vary but may include uncontrollable jerking and shaking, becoming stiff, staring blankly into space or collapsing.
Physical Activity with Epilepsy
Anti-Epileptic Drugs can be really effective in controlling seizures, which allow people with the condition to live a normal life. Unless a seizure occurs, there is no reason why any physical activity would be a problem for someone with Epilepsy.
People with Epilepsy can safely participate in most sports and forms of exercise. The most important thing is in ensuring continued safety should a seizure occur.
Cycling with Epilepsy
Cycling is a very rewarding form of exercise which can be made entirely practical for epilepsy providing safety is prioritised and an appropriate bike – or rather, trike – is chosen.
Tomcat is a specialist manufacturer and custom builder of trikes for all manner of disabilities and we build specifically for conditions such as epilepsy. As epilepsy affects people differently, the way it will impact the design stage very much depends upon the frequency, severity and predictability of the seizures for each customer. In other words, we look at the likelihood of a debilitating seizure whilst riding the trike.
There is no such thing as a safe bike for epilepsy, as two wheels will always present a danger should a seizure unexpectedly occur. The problem of instability on two wheels can be completely eradicated, however, by cycling on three wheels. Trikes designed for special needs or mobility issues are inherently stable and further stability can be given to the rider through a whole range of support accessories.
For many people incidents happen at night, are very brief and mild, or very predictable. However, when seizures are severe and unpredictable, we can add features that greatly assist in the management of an incident.
Support Accessories are one way we can equip a trike to provide a safe environment for people with epilepsy. Riders prone to seizures may benefit from a high backrest with a loosely adjusted harness to protect them from the sudden collapse of an atonic seizure. The loose harness will support the trunk and avoid the possibility of the head hitting the handlebars.
Where safety or decision making may be compromised by a seizure, Carer Control™ on steering and braking can ensure the rider’s safety at all times and in all circumstances.
Dual Axle is a Tomcat innovation which offers great flexibility. Many of our trikes are fitted with a fixed drive which is best suited to riders with learning difficulties or physical difficulties that impair coordination. However, if a rider is recovering from a seizure and needs to return home, pushing the trike in fixed drive will cause the pedals to turn which would be distressing for the rider when still feeling unwell. The Dual Axle enables you to switch to a freewheel drive at any time, making it easy for a carer to push the rider back to safety without rotating their legs.
If cycling is likely to become strenuous for either rider or carer, a Tomcat trike can also be equipped with high powered electric pedal assist, or for supervised trikes, with the Bionic Buddy, walking speed electric drive.
Lastly, it is often desirable to remove the person having the seizure from the trike, particularly if the seizure is so violent and uncontrolled that the trike is in danger of tipping. In these circumstances a single strap with a quick releasing Velcro® closer releases both the instep and heel from the footshoe so that the foot can be withdrawn in seconds.
With these four basic provisions every rider who experiences epileptic seizures can enjoy the benefits of cycling in the knowledge that they will be safe at all times and that should an incident occur, it can be dealt with instantly and safely in the best way for the rider and the situation at the time.