SU students offer fittings for mobility solutions

Shenandoah University graduate students will be fitting individuals with special needs for adaptive tricycles when the AmTryke Road Show comes to Winchester on Saturday.

Bonnie Riley, assistant professor of occupational therapy at the university, said students in both the physical therapy and occupational therapy programs recently decided to establish a local chapter of the AMBUCS nonprofit. The national group focuses its efforts on providing mobility solutions for people with disabilities through AmTryke tricycles.

She said students had their first hands-on experience with the customizable “trykes” when an AMBUCS representative came to the university in the winter. There, students fitted four children for a tryke of their own. Those children will receive their trykes on Saturday with funding from a grant by American Woodmark.

Riley said some kids with special needs have a hard time finding leisure equipment they can use easily. With a number of possible variations, she said these trykes will allow kids with different needs to keep pace with their friends while they’re out and about.

Students will help prospective tryke riders figure out what features would work best for them on Saturday, taking their measurements and providing families with a blueprint. From there, Riley said families can pursue obtaining the bikes through different financing options – students have raised some funds and she said there may be opportunities for future grants.

“At the very least, the kids can come out and have fun…ride a bike, play a little bit with the students,” she said. “The parents can have an idea…for what their children would need.”

Riley said the trykes are useful for teenagers and adults as well, but they provide children with a new option for playing with friends and exploring. For those that have trouble learning to use a traditional bike, she said the trykes provide health benefits and a confidence boost.

“In therapy, we often look to fix things and improve things…but the goal for giving these bikes to children is so they can have fun,” she said. “Sometimes that can be our goal for therapy, too.”

The road show will be held in Parking Lot E near the Health and Life Sciences Building on campus. In the case of inclement weather, the event will move to the building’s basement. Those interested in attending the road show for a fitting are encouraged to set up a time slot in advance by calling 540 535-3471.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com