Can a polio victim go cycling?

NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
I ask for my wife. She suffered from polio as a young child (around 2) and had much surgery to help improve things, but her left leg is very much weaker and a little shorter than her right. She walks without aid, but with a noticeable limp.

I was wondering if anyone here has knowledge they could share with regard cycling. She has made noises in the past about getting a bike, but obviously she's not going to be taking on anything too strenuous. I was wondering if there are any cycling aids (not talking about a motorised bike here) that might help her, any recommendations you might have or any useful info you could share.

Cheers xx(
 

allen-uk

New Member
Location
London.
Hello Nig.

No experience of polio, but as an amputee, might be able to point you and her in the right directions.

Having one plastic leg with a non-bending ankle means that while it is okay for walking (-ish), there are problems with cycling. Not hard to solve. I've got 2 or 3 gadgets which help. If you've got ten minutes, have a read of this short essay:
http://amputeecycling.blogspot.com/

Down the bottom are some photos of some of my bits. There's a 'crank-shortener', which brings the pedal (on the 'short' side) in towards the centre - so you don't go DOWN as far on the down-stroke, and if you have knee problems, it doesn't come UP so far on the upstroke.

Another device is a thing used by MTB loons called a 'Gravitydropper'. For amps and others, the use is this: you sit astride the bike with the saddle in the 'low' position, so your feet can touch the ground, then you start pedalling, pull a lever, and the saddle goes up (2 or 3 or 4 inches, depending on model), so it's then high enough for proper pedalling. Reverse when you stop.

I've always used big flat pedals with sharp pins to keep my feet (foot) in place, but just this month have been trying a cleat, just on the 'bad' side. Great improvement (and having it only on the bad side means that I can STILL get my good foot down to the ground v.fast!).

Anyway, if you need any further ideas, either PM me, or post on here, and I'll do my best to help.


Allen, London.
 
OP
N

NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
User3143 said:
Recumbent trike?
Was actually wondering about something like that - but I suspect the cost is waaaaay out of range.

I know she can ride (not like that ;) ), so 2 wheels are possible.
 

allen-uk

New Member
Location
London.
I know you won't have had time to read my bit yet, Nig, but bear this in mind: pre-amputation I hadn't ridden for 35+ years. Post-amp it took about 3 minutes to get back to riding! Trikes are okay, but a bit too wide for anything but cycle-path use, I reckon.


A.
 
OP
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NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
allen-uk said:
Hello Nig.

No experience of polio, but as an amputee, might be able to point you and her in the right directions.

Having one plastic leg with a non-bending ankle means that while it is okay for walking (-ish), there are problems with cycling. Not hard to solve. I've got 2 or 3 gadgets which help. If you've got ten minutes, have a read of this short essay:
http://amputeecycling.blogspot.com/

Down the bottom are some photos of some of my bits. There's a 'crank-shortener', which brings the pedal (on the 'short' side) in towards the centre - so you don't go DOWN as far on the down-stroke, and if you have knee problems, it doesn't come UP so far on the upstroke.

Another device is a thing used by MTB loons called a 'Gravitydropper'. For amps and others, the use is this: you sit astride the bike with the saddle in the 'low' position, so your feet can touch the ground, then you start pedalling, pull a lever, and the saddle goes up (2 or 3 or 4 inches, depending on model), so it's then high enough for proper pedalling. Reverse when you stop.

I've always used big flat pedals with sharp pins to keep my feet (foot) in place, but just this month have been trying a cleat, just on the 'bad' side. Great improvement (and having it only on the bad side means that I can STILL get my good foot down to the ground v.fast!).

Anyway, if you need any further ideas, either PM me, or post on here, and I'll do my best to help.


Allen, London.
Many thanks Allen ;) Looks like some good info that is very likely relevant for her - I'll take a proper look when time permits, cheers :biggrin:
 

Fiona N

Veteran
allen-uk said:
Trikes are okay, but a bit too wide for anything but cycle-path use, I reckon.
You've got to be joking - there are guys I know who ride trikes off-road and I really enjoying racing the taxis down Oxford Street on a Saturday :laugh:

Trikes are a state of mind :laugh:

More seriously - most bike paths are a total pain in the wotsit for trikes as the 'gates' and other structures meant to restrict access for motorised vehicles also tend to make things difficult for trikes too.
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
My dad did but before my time (1930s/ 40s). He'd had it as a child, and had a weak right leg. He had to have one crank shorter than the other but could ride. There are old photos of him all over Devon with his bike.

Have a go!
 
OP
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NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
Davidc said:
My dad did but before my time (1930s/ 40s). He'd had it as a child, and had a weak right leg. He had to have one crank shorter than the other but could ride. There are old photos of him all over Devon with his bike.

Have a go!
Hmmm, I can see how that could work for her. Actually, it might be all she'd need to cycle pretty comfortably, thanks :tongue:
 

allen-uk

New Member
Location
London.
Continuing Davidc's point: The crank shortener sold by Highpath (pictured in my amputee cycling blog, above) has three positions for the pedal, so that as limbs get better or worse, you can vary the amount by which the crank is shortened.


Allen.
 

Mark_Robson

Senior Member
I worked with a guy who had suffered polio as a child and he had a built up shoe. Would that not be easier than shortening the crank?
Of course I'm assuming that it's possible to buy built up shoes that are suitable for cycling.
 
OP
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NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
allen-uk said:
Continuing Davidc's point: The crank shortener sold by Highpath (pictured in my amputee cycling blog, above) has three positions for the pedal, so that as limbs get better or worse, you can vary the amount by which the crank is shortened.


Allen.
Thanks again :smile: I think, if she decides she likes the idea of cycling, this will be the route we will take to make things a little easier for her. But at the moment, after the suggestion, I'm not so sure she's quite so keen :eek: I'll try the idea again as I think it would be really nice for the 3 of us to go out as a family and pootle along the river or similar - guess who'll be lugging the picnic? :laugh:

Mark_Robson said:
I worked with a guy who had suffered polio as a child and he had a built up shoe. Would that not be easier than shortening the crank?
Of course I'm assuming that it's possible to buy built up shoes that are suitable for cycling.
OMG! Do you realise what you're suggesting? This is a woman I'm talking about - she couldn't have just ONE built up shoe - it would have to be an entire collection, in all the colours!!! B)

But seriously - she's never felt the need for special shoes to cope with the problem and manages to get around pretty well. She'd certainly be against special shoes for cycling, but thanks for the suggestion :smile:
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
NigC said:
OMG! Do you realise what you're suggesting? This is a woman I'm talking about - she couldn't have just ONE built up shoe - it would have to be an entire collection, in all the colours!!! ;)

But seriously - she's never felt the need for special shoes to cope with the problem and manages to get around pretty well. She'd certainly be against special shoes for cycling, but thanks for the suggestion :wacko:
Perhaps she needs to buy a pair of shoes specially for cycling in ... (not from a cycling shop:evil:), as she probably hasn't got a pair that would be exactly right to cycle in:biggrin:
[Edit: this is from a woman's point of view]
 

allen-uk

New Member
Location
London.
Having bought made-to-measure orthotic shoes and crank shorteners, I would just add this comment: the shoes were £540 from Salts, of Birmingham (you'd pay 4 times that in London). The crank shortener was £50.

Only comes in one colour, though.


A.
 
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