The Therapeutic Recreation Department at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital recently sponsored a Bike-On Clinic to provide a full day of education and exercise to members of the community with mobility impairments.
Director of Recreational Therapy and Adaptive Sports Eileen Andreassi and her department assisted participants in the program as they were custom-fitted for handcycles and recumbent bicycles. The clinic took place on Burke’s track, where cyclists enjoyed a beautiful summer day on the pristine 61-acre White Plains campus. The program runs from May through October and is open to the public. People living in the community with a disability register for the program and work with therapists and volunteers to determine the best cycle and learn how to use it.
“This will change the course of their lives and critically impact their lives,” said Andreassi. “These cycles allow a person to leave the house and be part of a group, to exercise and to achieve joy and improve their quality of life.”
Therapeutic Recreation department staff and therapy volunteers work with participants weekly during the winter months so they are fully trained. They help participants who have shown dedication to the sport secure funding to purchase a cycle for home use. Cyclists who demonstrate a commitment to the program are invited to join the Burke Cycling team, which runs independently from the clinics. The Burke Cycling Team has participated locally in 5K fall races including the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and looks forward to rebuilding the team after pausing due to COVID-19.
William Alvarez and his friend Domenic Romano participate in the Achilles Track Club, an organization that promotes mainstream athletics for people with disabilities. They tested the recumbent foot-cycles during a recent clinic. “It’s really sweet. It’s just like being at home, sitting on a chair,” said Alvarez. “You are fully supported. You don’t have to work hard to get moving.” The men act as mentors to Bike-On program participants.
Burke therapists and volunteers offered assistance to participants as they circled the track. With each lap, the cyclists completed an eighth of a mile, filling them with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
According to Burke Recreational Therapist Janelle Krantz, “The Bike-On Clinic and Burke’s Adaptive Sports Program are representative of the continuum of care we pride ourselves on here at Burke. We bridge the gap between inpatient rehab and re-entry into the community by educating and providing opportunity to create a connection with community resources.” She added, “Our programs give participants the education and confidence to then seek these recreational opportunities independently.”
Bike-On is located in Warwick, Rhode Island and manufactures adaptive and recumbent bicycles. Its employees travel to clinics and hospitals across the country.