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After His TBI My Son Gained Mobility on an Adult 3-Wheel Cycle

Updated on October 24, 2013

Twenty years after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury

on a small motorcycle he kept at college, for easy commuting from apartment to class, my son has wheels again.

Obesity and inactivity were the price

he paid for the lack of a real work program in the TBI facility where he resides. And though they seldom even engage him in chores like setting and wiping tables, he has ridden a low-exertion exercise bike for years.

Still, the pounds packed on, but once the program received some official complaints about the obesity they used some of his personal funds (the $57/month the typical Medicaid funded disabled person is allowed to keep for purchases such as clothing and toiletries). He paid for a 3-wheel adult bicycle, in installments.

It didn't crush the obesity

but he's miles ahead as far as core conditioning is concerned. He lives 1,400 miles from me. My visits last from ten days to over two weeks, to make up for the lapse. Last visit it delighted me to see the loose fit of his clothing, even if there were no weight loss involved.

Even his balance has improved

since bike riding became a regular part of his routine. Living far away from him, first impressions, after a year or so, have a big impact on me.

Balance is a noticeable issue ever since the TBI, but I took him on his first hike in twenty years and was surprised at how much more steady on his feet he was than the last time.

After he moves back home

it's still possible we may need to buy another bike for him, so I began browsing to see what bikes got the best reviews. For our purpose, if I were making the purchase now, I would choose this folding model.

3 Main Reasons I choose the Westport

adult tricycle - it's hard to write that word (reminds me of when hospital staff called the Attends diapers and the punch to the gut I felt, because only a few months before my son was preparing for university graduation and now I was hearing him discussed as if he weren't even present). Here are my reasons:

  1. 20" wheels mean it offers greater stability than those with the larger wheels, and that's vitally important to a person with compromised vision
  2. It folds! That means it doesn't necessary have to take up so much space as a regular 3-wheeler. Chances are I could even put it into my SUV with a little help from him
  3. I think I'll have no trouble assembling it because I have Allen wrenches, and torque wrenches and a vise-grip too. My son would love to take part in finishing the assembly with me. So, our two grips are probably strong enough for any need. My confidence comes somewhat from my house wiring experience - you can read about My Wiring Gig - and because I'm only too happy to read the directions.

I want one for myself too so that we can ride together.

That way my son will feel he's on a more equal basis and I don't have to relearn to ride after fifty years!

Please Wear a Helmet When You Ride - Stay Safe & Free

Below I share a couple photos that contrast the before and after bikes my son rode. photographs ©2006, 2012 by Papier, aka Leslie Sinclair.

Schwinn Urban Adult Microshell
Schwinn Urban Adult Microshell

A fine match for my son's needs. I prefer a light color because it may be somewhat cooler in hot Summer sun.

Although he dispensed with his helmet while at college he had previously always gone helmeted.

Since the TBI he wouldn't think of riding without a helmet.

Mirrycle Incredibell Original Bicycle Bell (Black)
Mirrycle Incredibell Original Bicycle Bell (Black)

This bike will serve both pleasure and therapeutic needs.

One plan is to do some pathfinding on our drive and paved paths, and the bell will be a helpful signal.

Pearl Izumi Men's Thermal Lite Glove,Black,Large
Pearl Izumi Men's Thermal Lite Glove,Black,Large

Since we're outdoorsy sort of people gloves will come in handy both for improving the grip and for keeping the fingers warm.

At the price these gloves have cost no more than a couple cups of coffee and he'll love the sporty look.


Photo Gallery

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Please share your thoughts about 3-wheel bikes for adults. Have you used one or do you own one?

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    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Santi -

      Oh, it can be overwhelming and seem like there is no end to the appeals one has to make, and no one seems to listen, and pain can be paralyzing. Your layers of pain must be confusing to deal with, and the allopathic doctors are quick to use chemicals for everything, sometimes spiraling the patient into depression and despair if those drugs fail to work. For an insurmountable pain I suffered for years, a pain for which MDs gave me no hope, I turned to a Chiropractic Neurologist. Along with her brain based focused treatments, I achieved healed nerves using only her treatments, natural organic methods and exercises. It required a change of diet but everything was worth it when I was able to quit taking the blood pressure and nerve pain medications that had disabled me for years. Yes, I do say the medication disabled me. It impaired my thinking, energy level, and added migraines into the mix.

      Part of the Chiropractic Neurologist's treatments involve physical exercises that retrain the brain to know when a certain area of the body really doesn't hurt anymore. After the physical injury heals sometimes our brains (not our thoughts, our actual brain-nervous system channels) haven't learned to stop responding to the former pain signals from the body area that has healed. I experienced this treatment and am convinced that the concept of brain retraining makes real sense and can be effective. I don't guarantee anything because I am not qualified to give medical advice and don't mean for my message to be so construed. I share my experience and my son's in hopes of letting others know there may be something they would like to explore.

      Of course you have anxiety, it's just not normal to deal with multiple physical ailments and intense pains and physical incapacities, especially when you're told that no causes can be identified following an accident, illness or onset of a condition, without wondering when the next shoe will fall. Social Security makes it very hard for any disabled person to get coverage, and most often it requires having an attorney make the appeals, because the denials are automatic and the attorneys know what documentation to obtain, and what magic words to use. The-sooner-the-better applies in this case because these attorneys work on contingency and often take 30-50% of the back payments the claimant eventually receives, at least that's the way it works in my state. Occasionally a friend or social service agency will take on the advocacy role when they have experience challenging SS denials.

      You don't say if you've had a brain injury, but it's common for slight TBIs to show no evidence on scans, however behaviors and symptoms can be enough to document the cause, and certain Chiropractors specialize in treating persons with brain injury. My son benefitted from treatments from a Vision Therapy Optometrist, and after a car accident I had 6 months of VT treatment that reversed several symptoms. Wherever you turn for an advocate, such as an attorney or an alternative medical practitioner, remember that you know your body and mind and speak up until you are heard. Do you have any nonprofit association that can refer you to an advocate?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      it would take time to heal. Well, it has been 11 yrs now and over time the pain is so severe I can't eat nor sleep nor do I even want to leave my house for weeks at a time. I haven't been able to work for yrs, but I have been deenid my SSD disability and the VA says I need more evidence to support my claim. I am married and have 4 children and in the past year my wife and I have lost our vehicles, and almost our home because I can't work. I have tried physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, voc rehab, tens unit and pain management and nothing has worked. I am currently taking 115 mg of oxycodone a day for pain, trazodone for sleep, mirtazapine for depression and list goes on and on. I have had MRIs, CT SCANS AND XRAYS come up negative. The doctors said I have nerve damage from the surgery, but it's my word against theirs. I am now 34 yrs old and I was just approved for a motorized scooter last month and a lift chair for my home to help me get up and down and they still tell me I need more evidence. What am I supposed to do to support my family when I can't even make it from one end of my house to the other? The VA also said I have an anxiety disorder and I wonder why that is. I have been asking if not begging for help about this for so many years and it has ruined my life. There are so many days I wish I was dead so I don't have to live with this pain everyday of my life. I just don't know what to do anymore. I sleep like 2-4 hours a night if that. I haven't eaten in two days. I am not able to play with my kids or ride a bike or do anything physical because of the pain. My family has suffered financially because of me not being able to support them.

    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Kim Milai: Yes, until he began using the bike his core was deteriorating. Never having been much of a bike rider myself, I thought it only conditioned leg muscles.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      You can in the undercurrent of your writing how much you love your son. This is a great idea for exercise. I will keep it in the back of my mind to recommend!

    • sousababy profile image


      5 years ago

      The stability a 3-wheeled bike is great for the elderly too. An added bonus is they don't fall over (the bike) when you park them. The handy basket is great for trips to the library or grocery store too. (Sometimes a small doggie is place in there too). Love these - I think they are wonderful. So glad your son is benefiting from one and building some lean muscle. Riding a bike gives us all a sense of freedom, I think.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have never used one, not much of a bike rider, but for what you are using it for, it sounds perfect.


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