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Lainey’s Tag-Along

Lainey is a 9 year old girl from Boambee East with Potocki-Lupski syndrome. This chromosomal disorder is characterised by intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy.

Lainey has a Freedom Wheels bike which she uses with parental support. Her younger siblings have grown to an age where they can manage longer bike rides but unfortunately Lainey is unable to keep up the pace on her normal Freedom Wheels bike.

Her parents decided that a tag-along bike would enable her to join the rest of the family on their longer rides. A tag-along connects to the saddle post of the main bike. So Lainey and her father attended a TAD assessment day in Port Macquarie where Lainey was assessed by TAD’s Occupational Therapist.

The modifications recommended after the clinic included quick release wheels and folding axles to allow the unit to be as portable as possible; dual wheels for stability; a mid-back postural support, together with a lap strap; the pedals could move; and foot cups with adjustable instep and heel straps to keep Lainey’s feet securely on the pedals while being towed.

Port Macquarie volunteer Mike Atkinson accepted the challenge of modifying a tag-along.

A new sub-assembly was needed to provide a mounting for the folding axles so that the tag-along could be folded for transport. This is where Mike’s mechanical engineering capabilities came to the fore. He designed a lightweight yet strong structure incorporating a standard Freedom Wheels U-frame bracket, which had the advantages of good design, low cost and a high riser for back support attached easily.

Lainey’s mother, Mel, says ‘The tag-along has made such a huge difference to us as a family! Being able to have a family activity which we can all enjoy has made Lainey a very happy girl. She loves to be included with the other kids.’

As the pedals can turn, Lainey can still get some exercise and movement as she rides behind Mel. The pedalling resistance is provided by a variable spring-loaded friction brake.

‘It was always Lainey and I who got left behind. She really feels like she’s contributing too as she gives me huge encouragement to get up the hills. She also loves going faster and the feeling of the wind in her hair and face. It really is priceless to see.’

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