Posted 3:55 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, 2022
New bike at UW-La Crosse will help students, community
A new adapted bicycle at UW-La Crosse is getting a workout by students learning how to support those with disabilities participate in recreation.
The university’s Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation Department partnered with UWL Outdoor Connection to purchase the tandem recumbent bicycle. Along with helping students get hands-on experience with assessment and adapted equipment, the bike is also available for community members to rent.
As part of a 400-level assessment class, therapeutic recreation students ran an assessment clinic and bike fitting Sept. 29 with community members in Can’t Stop Me Parkinson’s Program. The STAR Center disease-specific exercise program focuses on improving participants’ tone, rigidity and overall function.
The clinic gave students hands-on experience with assessment and adapted equipment for adults with Parkinson's. And, it introduced those with Parkinson’s to an option for enhancing their physical fitness through recreation.
Assistant Professor Tommy Means is excited his students gained real-life experience in situations they will eventually see on the job.
“Learning how to do assessments in the classroom is difficult,” explains Means. “Hypothetical case studies and peer practice certainly have their place; however, they cannot replicate a real-life experience where the student actually has to navigate the intersection of administering an assessment while navigating the interpersonal communication with the client.”
Assessments don't always go as planned, notes Means, so being able to navigate those problems is a great learning opportunity.
“This specific experience also allows students to integrate assessment with adapted equipment use, which is a common practice in our field,” he says. “Being able to collect assessment data, and then assist a client with adapted bike fitting is a direct application of a professional skill.”
Means says clinicals also provide the opportunity to help a non-profit organization like STAR.
“STAR is still relatively new, and this type of program helps build a partnership with students and faculty,” he says. “We hope to build this partnership in a way that allows for assessment clinics to start using the results as part of a research project to help validate the efficacy of the programs that STAR is offering.”
Means says students have held similar assessment clinics in the past with students and the STAR Sled Hockey team.
“Our Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation Department faculty do a lot in the community,” he notes. “Our therapeutic recreation students have regular programs with the Housing Authority and Aptiv. Our faculty also have regular class-based experiences through the Tourism Research Institute.”
The new terra trike recumbent bicycle is available for students and community members to rent through UWL’s Outdoor Connection.
Means hopes the new bike becomes popular among service-learning partners, students and the community. He sees potential to write grants to acquire more adapted bicycles while developing a significant adapted bike service-learning program.