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Recumbent Trike Therapy - November 2, 2012

Recumbent Trike Therapy

By: Dan Ihrke

Physical Therapy Assistant at On With Life

Advances in brain injury rehabilitation continue to be made every day. Some advances are comprised of the most state-of-the-art equipment with all the bells and whistles, while others are comprised of day-to-day objects you can find at a local retail store. Recumbent trikes are one of those day-to-day pieces of equipment that have found their way into rehabilitation and have made a monumental impact. 

From a functional mobility standpoint, recumbent trikes allow a large variety of brain injury survivors to target many aspects of functional mobility. Whether it is strength, endurance, motor planning (ability to coordinate sequential muscle movements), or balance that is being targeted; recumbent trikes can provide a benefit to each one. Also, utilizing recumbent trikes for therapy allows for a fun and more involved therapy session. Instead of therapy being performed to the survivor, the survivor is performing the therapy. There is also an added sense of independence as the survivor is able to control many aspects of the activity. 

Recumbent trikes come equipped with various modifications and settings that can be adapted to fit almost any person of any physical level. Many times following stroke/TBI, a survivor has one side that has become more affected and may be weaker. 

What makes this special?


Requires only one hand to steer
Almost anyone can participate with tandem option
Increases strength and endurance
Helps with motor planning
Assists with seated balance
The stronger leg can assist the weaker leg when pedaling
Movements closely resemble walking
Hundreds and hundreds of repetitions in a short amount of time possible
Most equipment is readily available at local bike shop
Fun and enjoyable family activity

One of the most astounding experiences I’ve had when utilizing trike therapy involved a TBI survivor. This survivor had been wheelchair bound for over 12 months with little to no movement in his affected leg. After several sessions on a recumbent trike the survivor was able to independently ride the recumbent trike for over 2,000 feet at a time and began to advance the affected leg during walking activities. In only three months, this survivor gained more strength, endurance, and motor planning in the affected leg than the previous nine months combined.

Bottom Line

Recumbent trike therapy is a relatively cheap yet immensely effective way to improve not only a survivor’s strength, endurance, motor planning, balance, and functional mobility but also quality of life.