Daniel Hilsinger, a 51-year-old paraplegic, can now ride a bike
again - by peddling with his hands, instead of his legs - thanks
to The University of Southern Mississippi's Toy Library and Technology
Learning Center (TLC) at the Gulf Park campus.
With a $56,460
grant from the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services
Spinal Chord and Brain Injury Trust Fund, TLC announces its new
program "Paddles and Pedals." The grant calls for new
equipment: four hand cycles and five kayaks.
adult or child, who has a special need that would prevent him or
her from using a regular bicycle or tricycle is now eligible to
borrow the adapted tricycles. These cycles are designed to be pedaled
with the hands instead of the feet. Included in TLC's inventory
are hand cycles for recreational use as well as for racing competitions.
these specially designed hand cycles, the exhilaration of a bike
ride can be a part of life for people who use wheelchairs,"
said Dr. Sara Jackson, director of TLC.
that kind of situation. In 1977, Hilsinger was involved in a serious
car accident while in southern Mexico. The resulting medical treatment,
including a surgery to repair a compound fracture of his left femur,
left his leg severely infected. Three years and 14 additional surgeries
later, the decision was made to amputate his leg above the knee.
to his new life without his leg, but never got over what he loved
to own motorcycles and enjoyed riding bicycles - now these activities
became difficult," he said. "TLC has now gotten me involved
in the use of hand-powered tricycles. After more than 25 years,
I can cruise again."
has taken advantage of TLC's tennis wheelchairs and is involved
in wheelchair basketball, along with the new hand cycles.
of tricycles has given me back something I had basically given up
on - the pleasure of leisurely or vigorously riding down a road
on a bicycle-like apparatus," said Hilsinger. "Another
totally amazing thing is that I can check out this equipment (tricycles
and tennis wheelchairs) at no cost due to TLC. I have also been
receiving tennis lessons from staff at TLC, also at no cost."
equipment that is available at TLC include: beach wheelchairs, all-terrain
wheelchairs, adapted fishing equipment, an accessible golf cart
and adapted clubs, and tennis wheelchairs (with free lessons). All
equipment may be borrowed for up to two weeks.
a wide variety of services and equipment to persons with medical
conditions at no cost," said Hilsinger. "Not only does
this assist me in improving my health, both physically and mentally,
but by getting folks like me out on the roads, tennis courts, beaches
and (in) classrooms, the general public becomes more sensitive and
aware. Many learn that being a person with a medical condition can
be a new opportunity to enjoy being who you are."
For more information
about the hand cycles, "Paddles and Pedals," and other
TLC services, call the center at (228) 867-2636.