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Summer Cruising: Using A Therapeutic Recreation Evaluation to Access Adaptive Equipment

Parent Contributor: Jess Randall

I look back on how I spent my summers as a kid—playing at the park, swimming at the lake, and riding a bike around our small town. I dream that my child will have similar experiences. 

My son, Isaac, age 7 has cerebral palsy and physical impairments. He uses adaptive equipment such as a wheelchair or gait trainer for mobility. While these pieces of equipment are helpful and serve specific mobility needs, it just isn’t the same as being able to pedal a bike in the summer breeze. 

We have been working with physical therapy for several years, and one of the goals has been to increase independence with pedaling a tricycle. Isaac requires additional trunk support for stability but has made a lot of progress with his ability to steer a tricycle and propel with the use of his legs. 

We have purchased several tricycles and made some at-home modifications to help them meet his needs. However, due to a recent growth spurt, he is no longer able to utilize the tricycles we found in stores because his knees hit the handlebars when he pedals. 

Another parent shared her experience of having a Therapeutic Recreation evaluation to help find an adaptive tricycle that would best meet her child’s needs. At a recent appointment with our Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine (PMR) provider, I asked about getting a referral to Therapeutic Recreation. We wanted to have an evaluation for an adaptive tricycle for Isaac. The provider placed the referral and the appointment was very easy to schedule. 

When we arrived at the appointment we met with an Occupational Therapist. We explained Isaac’s current strengths and challenges, and our goals regarding mobility with an adaptive tricycle. After an evaluation of his mobility, the therapist returned with a couple of different adaptive tricycles for us to try.

 We spent some time reviewing the specifics of each model, making notes of things that worked well and things that didn’t. At the completion of the evaluation, we were provided with a letter of support and information on the specific adaptive tricycle that was recommended for our son. 

We were provided with a list of vendors that sell adaptive tricycles and their contact information. We were also given a list of grant/funding possibilities to help offset the financial impact of the tricycle. Fortunately, we had planned ahead and had written the estimated cost of an adaptive tricycle into our son’s CADI waiver budget. 

I called several different vendors to see what type of tricycles they distributed and discussed financing options. Once we chose a vendor, I provided the specifications that were given to us from the Therapeutic Recreation Evaluation.

The adaptive tricycle is ordered, and we are anxiously awaiting its arrival. I look forward to cruising through the late summer with my son! 

Jamie O'Conner

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