A qualitative analysis of the experiences of children with cerebral palsy and their caregivers in a goal-directed cycling programme

Disabil Rehabil. 2022 Jun;44(12):2715-2722. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2020.1839134. Epub 2020 Nov 4.


Purpose: This qualitative thematic analysis aimed to capture the experiences of children with cerebral palsy (CP) and caregivers who completed an 8-week goal-directed cycling programme, to provide insights on engagement and programme feasibility.

Methods: Children with CP (6-18 years, Gross Motor Function Classification Scale (GMFCS) levels II-IV) and caregivers completed semi-structured interviews at the end of the training programme. Interview transcripts were coded by two investigators and systematically organised into themes. A third investigator reviewed the final thematic map.

Results: 17 interviews were conducted with 29 participants (11 children: 7-14 years). Four themes emerged: facilitators and challenges to programme engagement; perceived outcomes; the functional-electrical stimulation (FES) cycling experience; and previous cycling participation. Engagement was facilitated by the "therapist's connection," "cycling is fun" and "participant driven goal setting," while "getting there" and "time off school" were identified as challenges. Participants positively linked improved physical function to greater independence. The FES-experience was "fun and challenging," and participants had mixed feelings about electrode "stickiness." Previous cycling participation was limited by access to adapted bikes.

Conclusions: Children with CP enjoy riding bikes. Facilitators and challenges to engagement were identified that hold practical relevance for clinicians. Environmental and personal factors should be carefully considered when developing future programs, to maximise opportunities for success.

Clinical trial registration number: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry - ACTRN12617000644369pIMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONAdapted cycling is a fun and engaging activity for young people with cerebral palsy.Environmental and personal factors should be carefully considered when prescribing adapted or FES cycling programs to this group.Engagement in adapted and FES-cycling programs can be facilitated by access to loan equipment, a goal-directed focus, and positive therapist-child relationship.Participation in adapted cycling is limited by access to adapted cycling equipment.

Keywords: Adapted bikes; adapted cycling; cerebral palsy; functional electrical stimulation; goal-directed training; paediatrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Bicycling* / physiology
  • Caregivers
  • Cerebral Palsy* / therapy
  • Child
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12617000644369p