A tricycle for stroke victims and the elderly to freewheel again

Businessman Axl Loon (above right), whose company is the marketing agent for the MonoMano Tricycle, with Mr Chua Keng Kok on the tricycle.
Businessman Axl Loon (right), whose company is the marketing agent for the MonoMano Tricycle, with Mr Chua Keng Kok on the tricycle.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The MonoMano Tricycle uses an easy-to-control mechanism to help stroke patients and the elderly regain some mobility

Stroke patients are not usually seen on tricycles. However, they can be more mobile and enjoy recreational activities with the MonoMano Tricycle, or Trike for short.

Brought in from the United States by businessman Axl Loon, 37, the tricycle is a "recumbent trike that enables riders with a range of physical limitations to celebrate the joys of cycling again", he says.

Stroke survivors who are weaker on one side of their body are able to use a triangular mechanism, between the handlebars, to steer the Trike and control the brakes, all with one hand.

This mechanism can also be fitted on any tricycle so that it can be operated with one hand.

Also, Trike riders can pedal with one leg without losing balance, due to the Trike's stability with three wheels.

Riders with lower-limb weakness, who are unable to complete an entire revolution of the pedal, can cycle with a "push-pull" motion of the pedals as there is a strap to keep their legs on the pedal.

Essentially, they can push down on the pedal with one leg and pull back the other pedal with the other leg, and this action strengthens their legs.

The aluminium frame ensures that the 19kg Trike is not too heavy.

Mr Loon, whose company Lauric Strategy+ Marketing is the sole marketing agent for the Trike, was searching for a safe device that would allow his mother to enjoy her favourite pastime, after she had mentioned to her therapist that she wished to cycle again.

He chanced upon the Trike on MonoMano Cycling's website and bought it for $5,000 in 2014.

His 78-year-old mother was diagnosed with right middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke, triggered by dehydration from food poisoning in 2014. She was bedridden in hospital and had to use a wheelchair after her discharge.

She was initially unable to shower and dress on her own, and could stand for only five minutes unassisted. But after two months of outpatient therapy at Tan Tock Seng's Centre for Advanced Rehabilitation Therapeutics and her own efforts on the Trike, she could walk 1km in 25 minutes, shop for groceries on her own and travel in public unassisted.

After seeing his mother's progress, Mr Loon met Mr Wee Lin, chairman of Sunlove Home, a charitable home that provides rehabilitative care for its patients. He talked about the Trike and his mother's story.

Sunlove Home is undergoing a year-long pilot programme, which started in October last year, to test the elderly's receptiveness to the Trike. One Trike is loaned and rotated every two to three weeks among the Sunlove centres.

These are the Sunlove Ang Mo Kio Rehab Centre, Chai Chee and Marsiling Senior Activity Centre, Sunlove Cope (Community Outreach Programme for Elderly) in Eunos, and Hougang Senior Activity and Wellness Centre.

Mr Loon is in talks with other rehabilitation centres and hospitals to use the Trike in their rehabilitation programme.

Mr Sri Raja Mohan, 56, chief programme officer of Sunlove Home, has observed the success of the programme and says Sunlove intends to buy three to four Trikes, but are trying to get sponsors in the meantime.

He says: "I was unsure how the elderly would take to it as they are used to stationary bikes. At their age, it can be tough for them to get used to a new machine, but the programme has been quite successful."

Mr Chua Keng Kok, 88, a senior who visits Sunlove's Hougang Senior Activity and Wellness Centre, says in Mandarin that he has slight mobility problems due to his age and has not cycled for 10 years.

"I ride the Trike for 20 minutes whenever I have the chance and I feel that my leg is stronger. I would recommend it to my friends if they are willing to try."

A tricycle for special needs. Go to http://str.sg/4Gtd

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Cycling made easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe