Hospital to Host Handcycle Program

May 25, 2005

showcasing benefits of adaptive sports

Helen Hayes Hospital will host a free Handcycle Happening on Tuesday, June 14 at 4:00 p.m. at the physical rehabilitation hospital in West Haverstraw. The program, which is being sponsored in conjunction with United Spinal Association, is open to individuals of all abilities who would like to learn about the benefits of handcycling.

A large variety of handcycles will be on display for participants to examine and ride. Therapists and experienced riders will be available to answer questions, demonstrate the cycles and assist with practice rides.

Hand cycling is an excellent aerobic exercise providing a cardiovascular workout similar to a treadmill or bicycle. It improves endurance and strength while also expanding exercise options for individuals with disabilities. A hand cycle is similar to a bicycle, with the user using his or her arms to propel the cycle instead of the legs.

Currently, Helen Hayes Hospital is home to “Helen’s Angels,” a competitive hand cycling team. The team, which is an official chapter of the New York Achilles Track Club, is open to anyone with a spinal cord injury or other mobility limitation. Elaine DeFrancesco, PT, manager of the team and coordinator of physical therapy services on the spinal cord unit at HHH explains, “It’s very important for everyone to find ways to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. This program is designed to expose individuals of varying abilities to the cardiovascular benefits, and the fun, which handcycling offers. Someone riding a handcycle can go out and ride side-by-side with a bike rider or jogger.”

The United Spinal Association is a service and disability rights organization with 58 years of experience in adaptive sports and recreation. “Participating in adaptive sports not only is good for one’s health, but it helps to build confidence , self-esteem and independence,” says Bill Hannigan, senior membership consultant.

For additional information on the handcycle program, or to register, call 845-786-4225. Pre-registration is not required, but is welcome.