The recent publication in the UK of the first activity guidelines for children and young people with disabilities, got me thinking: how do we encourage children to achieve the recommended 120-180 minutes of physical activity per week?
It is a well-known fact that children with disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy (CP), are significantly less active than their typically developing peers, across all GMFCS levels. A high amount of sedentary behaviour can lead to numerous physical and psychological issues, such as muscle weakness, poorer cardio-respiratory function, impaired bone health, reduced cognitive function and lower mood.
As therapists, it is part of our role to encourage the children and young people we see to become more active in their day-to-day life, whether that be through sports, activities or by using different pieces of equipment. However, this becomes more challenging when encouraging children who are more severely affected by their disability, - for example children classified at GMFCS IV and V - to be active, as there are fewer options available to them. The good news is that Leckey has a solution - the MyWay Pedal accessory.
The MyWay Pedal attaches onto the MyWay walking frame, which is suitable for use for children at GMFCS Levels III-V. It is an elliptical trainer which helps improve strength and functional ability by facilitating pedalling in an upright extended position.
By moving in an elliptical pattern (an oval shape), rather than the circular action of a trike or a bicycle, the muscles in the lower limbs more closely resemble the range they would work in when walking. This helps with strengthening of the anti-gravity muscles (the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles), all whilst the child is upright and weight-bearing.
Children with increased tone often struggle to disassociate one limb from the other and the reciprocal movement of the MyWay Pedal also helps work on selective muscle control.
The MyWay Pedal can also be used to work on muscle strength following medical interventions such as botulinum toxin injections or selective dorsal rhizotomy or used for children who are recovering from longer periods of inactivity, i.e. following surgery or illness. For more benefits of the MyWay Pedal and hints and tips on how it can be best used, read our clinical workbook.
The MyWay Pedal has been proven to be a useful addition to therapy sessions, PE time, or simply as a way of encouraging children to have fun with their friends. Eli, a young boy with Cerebral Palsy at GMFCS III, is a great example of this. Eli used the pedal at school during his therapy time and progressed from being unable to propel the frame forwards, to being able to navigate around a complex painted trail painted on the playground floor. You can watch Eli’s journey here or read his Case Story.
One additional benefit of the MyWay Pedal being attached to the MyWay frame is that children with complex needs, or those who struggle with weight-bearing transfers, can be hoisted into the frame, thus giving them another way to meet the guidelines for daily physical activity, and allowing every child to have as many opportunities as possible to have fun, be healthy and live their lives to the fullest!
- Smith, B., Rigby, B., Netherway, J., Wang, W., Dodd-Reynolds, C., Oliver, E., ... & Foster, C. (2022). Physical activity for general health benefits in disabled children and disabled young people: rapid evidence review.
- Verschuren, O., Peterson, M. D., Balemans, A. C., & Hurvitz, E. A. (2016). Exercise and physical activity recommendations for people with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 58(8), 798-808.
- WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. (2020) Geneva: World Health Organization; Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO