Stationary Tricycle

Designers: Louise Oliver and John Alexander

Client Coordinators: Susan Parker, PT, Durham County Schools

Supervising Professors: Richard Goldberg and Kevin Caves

The use of pedaling as a therapeutic exercise is beneficial for children with a variety of disabilities because it develops better muscle tone, as well as left and right coordination.  The goal of this project was to develop a stationary tricycle that could be used by an elementary school physical therapist during therapy exercises. The final design is a stationary tricycle that attaches to a classroom chair via a clamping system, and that adjusts to accommodate children of differing sizes and disabilities.

How this project helped
Susan Parker, the client coordinator, commented, “As a pediatric Physical Therapist I have longed for a therapy tool that would enable my pre-school patients to work on reciprocal pedaling.  The problem is that many physically challenged children lack trunk strength and balance to sit on a standard tricycle while concurrently pedaling. There was no existing product that allowed pediatric patients to sit in a supported seat while practicing pedaling.  Creation of this device will, without question, have impact on the population of children I serve.  It expands the repertoire of movement experiences I can offer these children to promote motor development.  Best of all, it is colorful, stable and fun!  It is a clinician’s dream to offer a therapeutic activity that the child merely sees as ‘fun’!”

The main body of the Stationary Tricycle (Figure 1) was adapted from the front of a commercial tricycle that was designed for toddlers and had a mechanism to adjust the seat-to-wheel distance.

A custom wheel mount lifts the front wheel off the ground so it rotates freely while the child pedals, providing interest and motivation for the child.  The mount is constructed of 1” thick solid oak and painted red.  Rubber on the bottom and on the interface between the mount and the tricycle prevents slippage.

The chair attachment system (Figure 2) securely attaches the tricycle to a classroom chair, and provides both vertical and horizontal adjustment to accommodate different sized children.  The system consists of four separate components: the horizontal adjustment, the vertical adjustment, the hinge component, and the clamping system.  The horizontal and vertical adjustment tubes have a series of holes to allow for length adjustments using lock pins, which are attached with lanyards so that they will not be misplaced.

The distance from the seat to the pedal is altered using the horizontal adjustment, which also serves as the connection between the tricycle and the chair attachment.  The distance from the handlebars to the seat is altered by the vertical attachment.  The angle at which the aforementioned pieces are connected changes the angle of the handlebars, moving them closer or further away from the child.

The hinge component serves as the connection between the adjustment pieces and the clamping system.  It provides 180-degree rotation to accommodate both vertical and slanted chair legs. The clamping system consists of two metal slabs, which are pulled together by a screw and knob mechanism.

A bookstand, which was adapted from a collapsible music stand, attaches to the front of the tricycle with a threaded ring clamping system and knobbed screws.  The therapist can place a book on the stand and have the client pretend to ride to different places pictured in the book.  This provides added motivation for the client.  The bookstand can also be easily removed when not needed.  The pedals were adapted from commercial wheel chair pedals by painting them red and attaching foot cups to help children keep their feet engaged.  Two different size foot cups are included, and they are large enough to accommodate a child’s feet, with their shoes on.

The cost of parts for the Stationary Tricycle was approximately $150.

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