Multi medal-winning equestrian Paralympian Sophie Christiansen visited Chailey Heritage to find out more about the revolutionary new Sparks-funded Petra Running Bike Project.
The benefit of weight-bearing exercise for typically developing children is well known to improve muscle and bone strength.
However, children with cerebral palsy, which Sophie suffers, who are unable to walk independently, often have limited opportunities to participate in weight-bearing exercise and are more prone to lower limb muscle weakness, which contributes to pain, deformity and functional loss.
Children with cerebral palsy are generally less physically active than their unimpaired peers and so are also at greater risk of developing secondary conditions such as osteoporosis (reduced bone density).
The Petra Running Bike Project is investigating whether it is a feasible and enjoyable mode of weight-bearing exercise for severely disabled children with cerebral palsy.
The running-bikes have a unique design supporting the child’s posture, enabling non-ambulant children to weight-bear in a supported position and are individually adapted for each child’s requirements.