Biking for Benefits: Trinity Grove gives residents adaptive cycling experiences

With advances in science and medicine, people are living longer – which means they are also dealing with chronic conditions and the overall effects of aging.

To best care for skilled nursing residents, it is important to search for new ways to create meaningful, leisure activities that promote joy and physical well-being. To accomplish this, Trinity Grove in Wilmington, North Carolina created Biking for Benefits, a program that incorporates adaptive cycling equipment to improve quality of life for residents.

To make the program a reality, Trinity Grove received a $31,760 grant that was made possible by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in partnership with the North Carolina Culture Change Coalition.

With this money, the facility purchased three pieces of equipment: the NuStep, the DUET wheelchair bike, and the BikeAround, to create customized cycling experiences for residents.

Amanda Powell, director of life enrichment at Trinity Grove, got the idea for the program over a year ago when residents had the opportunity to use a DUET bike from UNC Wilmington. The DUET bike allows residents with mobility and balance issues the opportunity to feel the sun and breeze on their faces as they enjoy a bike ride outside. The DUET is a combination of a wheelchair and specialty bike.

“The residents loved it. Many can’t get on a regular bike and miss it because they want to be active,” Powell said. “We even had one resident who couldn’t remember anything she did that day, but she remembered she had been on a bike.” Just being outside is good for residents, Powell said.

After doing more research, Powell found that the NuStep and the BikeAround would also be great fits to enhance the lives of Trinity Grove residents.

The NuStep provides an exciting cycling adventure through the incorporation of Oculus virtual reality goggles. While residents virtually experience various locations around the world on their headsets, they simultaneously increase their body strength and endurance using the NuStep’s arm handles and pedals.

Specifically designed for those with cognitive decline, the BikeAround combines a unique projector technology and cycling to help residents virtually travel to old familiar places or to new destinations. Powell said this one is her favorite because she can go on YouTube and pull up a tour of anywhere in the world for the residents to cycle through.

“I can even use Google Maps to look up someone’s hometown. One of the residents hadn’t seen her home since the 1930’s when she was born,” Powell said. “When it pulled up, she looked at it and covered her mouth. She couldn’t speak because she was so happy to see her house for the first time since she was a little girl.”

Powell says it’s been heartwarming to see residents who always wanted to travel finally get to virtually experience a place they’ve never been.

As a result of the project, Trinity Gove expects to see a 20 percent increase in resident participation in leisure activities and an increase in resident, family, and staff satisfaction.