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Kids with special needs gain new strengths through Cleveland Clinic's Chance to Tryke Program

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Posted at 6:30 AM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 06:44:28-04

CLEVELAND — Children with special needs are biking their way to new strengths with new adaptive tricycles through the “Chance to Tryke” program from the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Nathan Ogonek, a physical therapist at Cleveland Clinic’s Children's Hospital, came up with the idea for the program.

“I use bikes throughout training sessions a lot… I think every kid likes to ride bikes. It’s something that’s fun. It’s engaging. It’s working on strengthening. It’s working on endurance,” he said. “That’s where the idea came to mind…as therapists, we look for ways to encourage a home exercise program.”

After about a year of seeking grant approval, Ogonek was given a green light with a Caregiver Catalyst Grant from the Cleveland Clinic Philanthropy Institute. The funding allowed him to purchase 29 adaptive tricycles for patients.

The adaptive tricycles are personalized to accommodate a child’s specific needs. As Ogonek explained, “there are a lot of different components that go into it like looking at different postural support.” The bikes are operated by hand, foot, or a combination of the two, depending on the patient’s requirements.

Adaptive tricycles spark new hope

Hailey Maggard, 7, was diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia when she and her identical twin sister, Hannah, were nine months old.

“When Hailey and Hannah were born about 3 months old I just knew for some reason that Hailey was special needs. I don’t really know why. Doctors and family were like I don’t know what you’re talking about and then 9 months she was diagnosed with PVL…and that diagnosis led to the label of cerebral palsy,” Hailey’s mother, Christie Maggard said. “So, Hailey has a difficult time with mobility and moving.”

Just a year ago, Hailey underwent Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, which is a “Minimally invasive spinal operation done to help permanently reduce leg spasticity and encourage independent walking,”

Since then, Hailey has been rehabbing three times a week at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s hospital with Ogonek.

Once Ogonek started the process of creating the Chance to Tryke program, Christie. Maggard recalls a family friend secretly signing Hailey up to participate and receive an adaptive tricycle to take home with her. To her surprise, Hailey was one of 29 children with special needs chosen to receive a tricycle.

“I am so grateful because this is something that is difficult or expensive to get,” said Maggard. “She has loved it and it’s been so excited and she was excited which makes me happy.”

Adaptive Tricycle Expansion

Ogonek says funding limited the number of tricycles provided. The tricycles cost between $500 and $2,000 each.

“I would love to get one for every kid, but it’s challenging. It’s something that’s expensive. It’s not something that every child is able to get,” he said.

As a result, Ogonek hopes patients will return the adaptive tricycles for others to use when they outgrow them or are done using them. He says it will allow the Chance to Tryke program to reach more families in need.