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New Research Shows Riding STRIDER Bikes Improves Stability Scores in Children with Autism

New research by Dr. Andrew Shim, Chair of Briar Cliff University’s Kinesiology and Human Performance Department, confirms that children with ASD show a significant improvement in Limit of Stability outcomes after riding a STRIDER No-Pedal Balance Bike for five weeks.

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Dante Hoffman during the Pitt Strider Race.

Dante Hoffman during the Pitt Strider Race.

Findings recently released show that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects one out of every 45 children in the United States. Many people with ASD never learn to ride a two-wheeled bike because of challenges with balance and coordination. New research by Dr. Andrew Shim, Chair of Briar Cliff University’s Kinesiology and Human Performance Department, confirms that children with ASD show a significant improvement in Limit of Stability (LoS) outcomes after riding a STRIDER No-Pedal Balance Bike for five weeks.

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“Stability scores in all body planes were significantly improved during the five-week duration,” said Shim, who conducted the research at the Pier Center for Autism in Sioux City, Iowa. “Starting on a STRIDER Bike can assist children with special needs in transitioning to a regular, two-wheeled bicycle without the anxiety of falling or using training wheels.”

The five-week study involved eight children with ASD between the ages of six and 10 who had no prior bike-riding experience. They met three days per week for one hour, and on average, they rode for about 15 minutes each time, based on their tolerances.

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A MANOVA, a multivariate analysis of variance, was used to determine significant changes, if any, during the five-week period. Variables such as static balance with their eyes open, unstable surface with their eyes open, and stability in four body planes (front, back, left, right) were measured consistently during the five weeks. Scores were recorded on a computerized balance plate, which determined Center of Pressure scores and Limit of Stability scores.

Many parents like Amber Zorak of Cheswick, PA, also see behavioral and social benefits of kids riding STRIDERs. Her 11-year-old son Dante Hoffman has ASD and competed in the Strider Championship Series Special Needs Race in Pittsburgh this year. “Dante is always smiling and laughing when he rides his STRIDER! His behavioral therapist incorporates it into his therapy twice a week. Riding makes him feel like he fits in and helps him bond with his 6-year-old brother who rides a pedal bike.”

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Amy Heuston, a special education teacher at Central High School in Rapid City, SD, has 13 STRIDER Bikes, incorporating them into the curriculum and the students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). She states, “We knew the STRIDER Bikes would have physical benefits, but I have seen their impact in five areas: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech, Behavioral, and Social.”

The research was sponsored by Strider Sports International. The STRIDER Bike line-up includes the 12” model for riders from 18-months up to 5-years old, and the 16” and 20” models developed for older children and adults with balance and coordination challenges.

A full report of the Shim’s 2015 findings is expected to be published in early 2016. A 2012 study with three- to five-year-old typical children led by Shim at the University of South Dakota (USD) in Vermillion, concluded that participants benefited from using a STRIDER Bike by improving their balance and functional fitness, while likely reducing future injuries during their daily routines.

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