Why Biking is Incredible for Brain Health

Over the course of the last year, we’ve done a lot of work to heal from acute trauma-induced seizure activity with my kiddo Raegan. You can learn more about our journey in previous posts here and here.

Diet changes, natural medications, and physical exercise have all been key to avoiding major chronic decline as a result of extreme medical trauma. Sometimes the reality is that Raegan can’t move around well after a lot of seizures. Our secret to getting her back moving at baseline and independently walking is her Rifton Modified Tricycle.

Even on days when she can’t walk well, we can strap her in and use extra support around the chest to keep her up and motivated, while her brain benefits from the repetitive movements of both legs moving in sync. It is the repetitive, symmetrical motion and activation of muscles that literally heals the brain post-trauma and keeps her functioning at baseline.

It’s the same type of exercise we employ with extreme injuries and other diseases, so why not apply it to our kids when they need it most to fight for basic abilities and improved brain function?

Our focus is to make sure she rides her bike for at least 20 minutes. Some days we go out for 45 minutes or more. Raegan could be almost not walking, tone poor –and after a few long bike rides, we can almost instantly see improvement across the board with her physical and cognitive abilities. I can't emphasize enough the importance of this bike in our lives and how it helps Raegan keep doing all she wants to do physically on her own!

Did we mention she has fun too? Fun is important with kids.... and most kids love to bike!

There is a ton of research I’ve read and borrowed from for insight into the benefits of repetitive movements to heal the brain from injury or trauma. I’ve always felt that when I come across research for autism, Parkinson's, traumatic brain injury and even strokes, there are underlying common denominators between those and a condition like Rett Syndrome and epilepsy, which Raegan has both. These common denominators are: 

1) Physical symptoms and movement disorders

2) Abnormal non-epileptic brain noise

3) Neuron pathways being disrupted or broken and needing to be repaired

Strokes:

Even though the sizes of studies have been small they’ve been significant enough to capture attention and change the recommendations for activity post-strokes. See this article here.

Parkinsons:

Great overview of one man’s insight that led to groundbreaking research on the role biking can play in neuro-rehabilitation here.

Autism:

Watch the ABC news video “Overcoming Cerebral Palsy with Ballet” it’s amazing!

Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Emerging Opportunity for Physical Therapy (Pediatr Phys Ther 2012;24(1):31-37)

Obviously, a huge barrier to entry is the cost of such equipment. More and more organizations are popping up to help fund specific equipment. Also launching a personal gofundme page to crowdsource for something specific like this, listing the benefits to overall health and wellness, as well as brain rehabilitation is critical for getting people to donate! Don’t be shy, this is your kid or loved one, and they deserve it! 

The Rifton website lists some good sources for funding here as well.

After a good bike ride or work out, remember to rub down with your favorite ANSHI rub - Total Healing Turmeric works great for sore muscles!

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