Young children with special physical conditions that prevent them from riding a bicycle normally couldn't stand still yesterday when they received bicycles adapted to their needs.
"My bike is the most beautiful," cried five-year-old Sarah yesterday, bouncing in place with so much energy.
The girl was born with a congenital defect in her arm that meant she couldn't hold the handlebars of her bicycle. Her dad, Jean Martial Kouacho, had to take her on a tricycle with a handle.
With a smile from ear to ear, she was one of five children who received an adapted bike yesterday. Occupational therapist Catherine Ménard and prosthesis mechanic Marie-France Légaré almost had to run after him to finalize the final adjustments, at the Marie-Enfant rehabilitation center of the CHU Sainte-Justine.
With the rest of their team, they adapt the bikes for children who present particular physical challenges. Paralysis, amputation, dwarfism, complex malformation: they sometimes have to be very creative.
“Cycling is often the first activity they do independently. It is really important, for these children in particular. The whole question of self-esteem, of socialization, it comes with the simple fact of riding a bike, ”underlines Ms. Légaré, tightening one last screw.
To do this, they use assessment tools that can be adjusted from anywhere to measure the child's comfort, before making the custom adaptations.
A lot of will
“Children who have disabilities, amputations, the smallest thing can become a challenge. The bar is high, but they have a lot of willpower,” she adds.
Last year, young Estelle, now 8 years old, received a bicycle adapted to her condition as a short person. The only other bikes she could use did not allow her to keep up with her parents or friends, being intended for younger children.
In his case, the handlebars are closer and the bike is smaller.
“It makes a big difference in the lives of young people. It makes them more autonomous and integrated. His bike is his pride. To be able to do the same activities, to follow her friends, she can do like the others,” says her father, Luc Rivet.
And often parents get emotional at the bike clinic. "It's often the first time they see them doing something on their own," concludes Ms. Légaré.