Paralyzed Veterans of America last week wrapped up its 11th adaptive handcycling clinic for veterans who are unable to ride a two-wheeled bike because of spinal cord injury, spinal cord disease, or other disability.
View more photos from the May 2013 Cleveland Hancycling Clinic. Photo by Stuart Cohen, Invacare.
Last week’s clinic, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio, included 23 participants, with experience levels ranging from novice to advanced, said Jody Shiflett, adaptive cycling program consultant at Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“The purpose of the clinics are to get people on bikes to assist with their recovery and provide them with better health,” Shiflett said. “The goal for some is to go into competition, but that’s not a requirement. The requirement is they are motivated and want to learn more.”
Paralyzed Veterans works to pair up the clinics with a specific event or activity in the local area, whether it’s riding across the Golden Gate Bridge or going on a long ride on the day following the clinic, Shiflett said. The Cleveland clinic took place just two days before the start of the Buckeye Wheelchair Games, so some veterans were able to pair up their competition in the games with their participation in the handcycling clinic, he said.
Paralyzed Veterans works with two companies -- Ohio-based Invacare Corporation and Tennessee-based Power On Cycling -- to provide equipment and instruction for the handcycling clinics.
“We’ve been involved with Paralyzed Veterans of America for over 30 years, and we’re happy to be able to provide product and instruction,” said Stuart Cohen, national government and federal account manager at Invacare. “The goal is to introduce our products and help veterans get comfortable with them so they can request them through the Veterans Administration.”
The final handcycling clinic for this year will be on July 22 in Anchorage, Alaska. Paralyzed Veterans will host four new clinics in 2014 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Louisville, KY, Albuquerque, NM, and Milwaukee, WI, Shiflett said.
The goal is to spread the clinics out enough over an eight-year period that Paralyzed Veterans will have made it convenient for all disabled veterans interested in the program to attend at least one clinic, Shiflett added.
An additional perk of participating in the handcycling clinics is that all attendees over the course of the fiscal year will be entered to win a Top End Force R bike, Shiflett said. “That’s a motivating factor because not everyone can afford or receive benefits from the VA to buy a bike,” he said.
Read more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s adaptive sports programs
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.