Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move some or all of your body.  There are many different causes and, depending on the cause, may be temporary or permanent.

Physical Activity with Paralysis

When a clinician prescribes exercise or physiotherapy as part of a recovery regime, cycling can provide a very valuable therapy for certain conditions.  Even if recovery is not expected, the physical activity of cycling can still offer many benefits to general health and wellbeing.

Cycling with Paralysis

When cycling is recommended as part of a direct or indirect therapy regime, we would commonly expect to be dealing with one of the following three forms of paralysis.

  • Paraplegic paralysis where the legs are affected
  • Quadriplegic paralysis where all four limbs are affected 
  • Hemiplegic paralysis where one side of the body is affected

When the legs are significantly affected by paralysis as with paraplegia, a hand propelled trike is an excellent alternative to pedal power.  Though it is true that legs are more powerful than arms for cycling , a well matched hand cycle can still achieve a very impressive manual performance.  However, when a hand propelled trike is fitted with electric power assist, it’s possible to achieve exactly the same speed and performance as a pedal propelled trike.

When both legs and arms are significantly affected by paralysis, as with Quadriplegia, a hand and foot powered machine, perhaps with electric power assist, may be the answer.  Clearly the approach in cases of quadriplegia is likely to be complex and unique to the rider, but it is generally true that most problems associated with quadriplegia can be overcome.  

When only one side of the body is affected, as with Hemiplegia each case must be considered on its own merits – however, hemiplegia is a relatively common condition associated with a number of different causes.  Depending upon the condition and environmental challenges, it is perfectly possible to pedal a trike with just one leg, however gradients become a challenge and power assist is usually required to compensate.   

Hand cycling is more difficult with hemiplegia as the one sided weakness will cause the steering to continually wander, however, even this can be compensated for with the addition of Carer Control, where a carer is able to steer and brake while the rider concentrates on cycling.  Paralysis is a condition with many causes and symptomatic effects.  However, once the effects of the Paraplegia, Quadriplegia or Hemiplegia, and their impact upon a person’s ability to cycle are understood, most solutions are entirely possible.