In India, trauma injuries are increasing at a steady pace of 3 per cent annually. Accidents not only scar the body but also traumatise the mind. While surgeries open up some possibilities for patients, for overall recovery, rehabilitation is an essential tool.
Rehabilitation has a dual-pronged strategy towards recovery. It speeds up healing by promoting physical mobility in patients and also restores self-confidence by making their mobility independent. Rehabilitation is key for reviving proper physical conditions and strengthening muscles.
Cycling is one of the exercises used to help people with physical disabilities. It deals with impairments such as decreased muscle strength, range of motion, and reduced fitness. This can improve mobility, activity, and participation.
Exercise cycles can be passive or active. An active exercise bike is used as rehabilitation for patients with injuries and acute orthopaedic conditions such as knee injury, spine injury, spondylitis, backbone problems and arthritis. Passive cycling is used in early stages of paralysis such as stroke, head injury and spinal cord injuries.
There are several instances when biking has worked wonderfully as a part of rehabilitation programmes.
Cycling prevents further injuries as the required posture makes sure there is no deviation of movement from standard exercise motion. It is great for lower body muscle strength and posture correction.
Exercise cycles are highly customisable. One can adjust the height, speed, resistance of the pedals etc.
The benefits of cycling in rehabilitation include increased joint range of motion, prevention of joint contractures, improved muscle bulk and muscle tone, reduction of spasms and efficient bowel and bladder function.
Cycling heals the four quads present in the thighs while controlling the stress exerted on knee ligaments. In case of neurological stroke or severe spine injuries, through this pattern of movement, nerves get stimulated and learn to carry signals of movement locally.
The repetitive knee motion is great for arthritic knees as it promotes lubrication and strengthens the quadriceps muscles. Stronger muscles stabilise knees and enable them to absorb shock better, reducing damage and pain.
Exercise cycles are therapeutic in nature. They help make treatment impactful by addressing target areas for stimulations.
As there are different types of exercise cycles, based on the nature of pain and injury, the correct cycle should be selected.
While in most cases cycling has proven to be effective in most of the patients, some have not experienced expected results.
The need for rehabilitation is an integral part of treatment today and it should be supervised by professionals, especially during the initial days, when patients are still quite vulnerable to further injuries.
More importantly, self-rehab should start only when the doctor and the therapist give it a go.
Chief of Rehabilitation Services, Indian Spinal Injuries Center (ISIC), New Delhi