A new ride for rehabilitation
Rehabilitation and fun are not often mentioned in the same sentence. For patients struggling with mobility or endurance due to a neurological condition or cardiac issue, rehab can be even harder. It takes one or two sessions a week with physical therapists like Marguerite Devinney, working on stationary equipment like an elliptical or treadmill, which can also get repetitive over time.
But now, thanks to a donor from the community, Swedish patients have access to a new tool to change up their rehab routine: the Alinker bike. With a bright yellow paint job and a swooping profile, it’s immediately eye-catching. The Alinker was designed to give people with mobility challenges an opportunity to be active safely—and with a little style. Like a standard bike, it has handlebars with brakes and a seat. Unlike a bike, it has three wheels and no pedals, allowing patients to walk or scoot along at a quicker pace and with less effort or the risk of a fall.
“It’s like a big toy,” says Marguerite. “It helps patients get leg conditioning and exercise while having a little fun, too.” Her first patients to hop on the Alinker used to enjoy bike riding but are no longer able to ride a two-wheel bike. Those patients can now do laps on the Alinker around the rehabilitation gym at Swedish Cherry Hill, enjoying the feeling of riding a bike while building strength and endurance.
And for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are experiencing fatigue and muscle weakness, the Alinker can help them work their leg muscles without too much exertion at the Swedish MS Center. Physical therapist Kim Kobata thinks the Alinker will be especially useful for patients who want to target their hamstring muscles. “The quad muscles in the front of the leg tend to stay strong and are used to help patients sit or stand,” she says. “But hamstrings tend to get weaker, and the Alinker can help get them firing again.”
Marguerite is also making plans to use the Alinker with patients who are recovering from lingering symptoms of COVID-19, at our new COVID-19 Recovery Clinic. She thinks this generous gift will be a great way to get patients moving again who might be struggling with exhaustion or breathing issues after spending long periods of time sick in bed. “If patients are having fun, then they're not so focused on how uncomfortable or tired they are,” says Marguerite.
And if patients enjoy their time on the Alinker, Marguerite hopes it can act as a bridge to trying more outdoor activities, using adaptive equipment. “Patients can be a little hesitant to get out and try adaptive bicycles or other equipment because they don’t feel comfortable,” she says. “I hope the Alinker can encourage patients to get back to doing the things they love.”
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