Can you still ride a bike same after head injury? - Headway


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Can you still ride a bike same after head injury?

keeley24 profile image

May sound a daft question but today at a head injury group I go to they mentioned they will probably set a day to go cycling for exercise. I said I would like to go even tho i haven't rode a bike in years. After thinking back I realised it was before my head injury I last rode a bike. My balance is one of the very few things I can honestly say is still terrible since my head injury. So I'm wondering if I will still be able to ride a bike or if I'll have to relearn. I don't remember ever being great with balance before and stuff I need balance for each day like walking I'm fine but wondering if my balance will make it harder to ride a bike .

38 Replies

Possibly, my balance is damaged and oddly i'm better on the bike than walking, I started back very slowly shortly after discharge, I started at 0.5 miles slowly increased over 8 months to doing what I used to do.

oddly I can even Ice Skate, though I find the train/bus and hard work.

luckily I'm tall and strong so can clamp on to something though travelling in rush hour on the tube was frankly dumb, I was lucky not to fall frankly.

For me it will be full day cycling as the first time I've cycled since BI. Up to now I haven't had anything I've struggled with yet. Did have to go through physio but even that was quick even tho I would of liked it to be quicker. Not expecting anything to go wrong but did cross my mind I may struggle with this and would be long day to struggle.

what sort of cycling day? I would assume this would be more gentle than training for TDF?

and I would assume the headway group would help?

That is interesting Roger... my balance is pretty shot too and I am also better on a bike than walking.

I did ask the nerophysio why, she wasn't sure but suspected that since my left leg doesn't respond as well as it should, and my balance is better right than left, that the bike eliminated that?

I did notice for about a year? that my low speed cycling balance was poor, i like MTBing which involves low speed balance, had a few comedy falls where i attempted to put my foot down and well just didn't!

bizarrely some things are fine others are awful, gravel/boards on grass horrible, Ice skating much to the physio recommendation not to! is fine!

Just gentle cycle I think more for something to do.

I have balance problems when walking but like Roger has said on a bike I am reasonably ok. Did take a long time until I felt ready to give it a go. I am sure you are not the only one who will be unsure about how they will manage. Where are you going to be cycling because I can't imagine they will be expecting you all to turn up with your bikes and head off on the roads. Near me there is a cyclopark with various routes and tracks for various types of cycling so you aren't out on roads. There you can also hire bikes and they have bikes suitable for all with various bikes for disabled such as bike three wheel trikes.

Try on a football pitch etc. Might be beneficial trying. I skateboard now for balance improvement & pleasure. In uk would be considered odd, here noworries. Balls to what others think.

in reply to Ghost-on-point

I am on the south coast and I see a lot of middle-ages men skateboarding- I think it's great :)

Ghost-on-point profile image
Ghost-on-point in reply to

Thankyou :) I'm the not-so- good looking one with the "Builders -Bum" ;)

I couldn't skate before I suspect that now would be unwise, mind you, you never know!

Hi Keeley,

There seems to be no reason why a head injury should stop you riding a bike. As others have said balance issues don't seem to effect riding a bike.

Some have gone on to ride as a sport so must be able to cycle for fun or fitness.

Pre bi I was a keen road cyclist but alas I have issues with my left leg that so far has prevented me from riding again. There are adapted bikes out there but can be expensive.

Enjoy cycling but keep safe.


Matt2584 profile image
Matt2584 in reply to paxo05

Erm, excuse me but there is very good reason why a head injury can stop you riding a bike, have a look at my reply to Keeley. If the cerebellum (part of the brain for controlling balance) is damaged, like mine is, then you don't have a lot of hope on getting on a bike again. Trike maybe but bike... no way.

paxo05 profile image
paxo05 in reply to Matt2584

Sorry matt,

What I was trying to say was just because you have a bi doesn't mean it will stop you riding a bike.

As is often said each bi is different so just because one person with a bi cant ride it doesn't mean it will be the same for you. Also it works the other way just because someone suffers balance issues but they improve whilst riding a bike doesn't mean the effect will be the same for everyone.

We are each individual so what I really meant was give it a go. You never know till you try.

My balance and lack of sensation in my left leg have made cycling virtually impossible for me. I only found this out by giving it a go.

The main thing to remember is a bi is a general term and does not describe the damage done. So be led by what you feel comfortable doing and try whatever you wish. Just do so safely and sensibly.

Matt2584 profile image
Matt2584 in reply to paxo05

You are right when you say "Give it a go and find out" but for me I don't think I really need to give it a go and find out, I think I can tell already and it would be no good.

I can't even walk in a straight line, heel to toe. The trouble is with my gait (Not my garden gate :D), but when I stand in one spot I usually have a space between my feet which helps me sustain my balance. The more narrower my gait becomes, the more testing it can be for my balance.

jacs17 profile image
jacs17 in reply to Matt2584

matt2584 I am alot like you as im unsteady on my feet on the ground,never mind trying to control a bike,think end up seriously injured as my walking because of not just brain bleeds is wonky.Even pushing it think I would end up causing harm ,even my hands don't work often so be like a catastrophe.I know what others be thinking oh she's drunk not realising she's been threw hell an is still here so a no for me too

Matt2584 profile image
Matt2584 in reply to jacs17

Hi Jacs,

A lot of people on the outside can be so judgemental. I should think I have been seen as a drunk person when walking around as well.

Years ago, I used to hold onto my mum, dad or older brothers arm for assisstance. I would always think that when I am holding onto one of them, people walking by might think we are a couple or something haha.

I walk with a stick now as my walking has got worse and I feel my left leg has got progressively weaker too. I sometimes hold onto my parents or brothers arm on very uneven terrain on on an incline.

But speaking of judgemental people, I sometimes get out and about on my own a bit more and when I do go out I try to wear one of the Headway shirts I designed. I have got one that has my Headways logo on the chest and underneath it says "Don't judge a book by it's cover..." and on the back it says "... until you read it's contents." Which is a quote I stick by and on my other Headway shirt it says "What's the matter, has the label fallen off?". It refers to the ignorant people who stare at me.

jacs17 profile image
jacs17 in reply to Matt2584

its hard as you look normal but your far from ever being normal.Then call me fits break dance time I can break dance lol,just madness I say don't judge me by my exterior.As you need to handle my interior,to ever get a glimpse of my exterior as my ass to normal;normals not even a reality,As were all uniquely made without added disabilities.Just a walking pharmacy me LOL ;

Fificakes2 profile image
Fificakes2 in reply to paxo05

Yes I've thought about getting a hand bike because I'm similar with loss sensation in my right leg' but damage to my back can make it hard to do.

I'm riding Land's End to John O'Groats in September. Have only been on a road bike once in the last 30 years, so I trust you can. Half my skull is titanium & I've bought a good helmet. Raising donations for Headway so hope I'll succeed. Just need to start training😁

Ghost-on-point profile image
Ghost-on-point in reply to DTBI

Hopefully your bike is as gucci expensive as your titanium upgrade ;)?

DTBI profile image
DTBI in reply to Ghost-on-point

No. I'm pleased my bike cost nothing in comparison. Having a skull will always be more valuable😃

They have said there will be a place to hire bikes for the day I'm guessing it will be some cycle route rather than on roads and it will be up to everyone if they want to go. It has nearly been 5 years since my BI so I'm pretty much at stage where I can manage anything I could before. Is interesting how BI effects everyone differently and I was told at time I recovered very quick but seeing others who had BI makes me realise. The man who set this head injury group up has struggled with most things even avoided driving for about 3 years but is fine now. I was thinking he may like people to be quiet when he was driving as he can struggle concentrating on more than 1 thing but yesterday he was making conversation when driving.

My husband struggles with walking, but rides a bike really well.

Just stick to cycle tracks or quiet places.

Mirrors are really useful to look behind you as well

Enjoy, it's a great way to exercise

I cycled so much more after my TBI. In my 20's I cycled everywhere in south London and once over Tower Bridge. Bloody great feeling! Not interested in driving and miss cycling. I don't risk it now I have a son. When he starts school I'm looking forward to coastal route cycling as I would avoid roads now.

Interesting isn't you may forget where we put things around the house, forget to turn things off and on, forget how to get somewhere, struggle with coordination and doing things in sequence but even with a head injury "you don't forget how to ride a bike!" - the brain is a really weird thing

In the first year, I was still zombie walking, I'd taken the MTB out and slightly miscalculated a turn, and lost the front wheel momentarily, at that point, all of my old responses kicked in and rescued the situation, on foot if I'd slipped I'd of just fallen, but on the bike, odd really.

I have the same thing with ladders, I can climb a ladder and not get any symptoms but sometimes walking a few feet, I start to wobble - mother nature really has a quirky sense of humour

You could always put some stabilizers on the bike if you are worried or could you get a 3 wheeler or adapted bike if you have concerns?

It will be a hire bike so pretty much need to get on and ride it.

Many stroke survivors use recumbent tricycles successfully. I'm saving up for one. Search online. I hear they are safe, very stable, and fun. Good luck.

Hi Keeley,

Not really a daft question at all, probably quite interesting for some.

Before my BI, I could not ride a bike. My Dad took me out and I tried a few times to ride but the longest I could stay on a bike was for a few seconds before I would fall off and graze my knee.

I also was not good at P.E in school when it came to walking the balance beam, I would lose my balance pretty easily and fall off. I remember one time when I was paired up with a person I wasn't really fond of and he was "supposed" to be my aid while on the beam. Well he decided it would be funny to move out of range and let me lose balance and fall, only the thing was I kind of done the splits in the air and as I fell down the beam smacked me between me wotsits :). I was left with a massive bruise.

Anyway, aside from that. My brain tumour was/is located on the brain stem right under the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. My GP was saying that it made sense I had poor balance because it was probably the tumour that gave me poor balance. He was saying that I COULD have better balance after my first couple of ops... that was in 1996. I didn't have better balance because I still had the tumour after those couple of ops only it was inactive.

I did try to ride bike after those couple of ops and my balance was still pretty weak.

And gradually as the years went by and I had further operations which included a second brain tumour and the tumour pressing against the cerebellum, I had no hope of getting on a bike again.

If my first tumour had never calcified and I never had a second tumour that caused damage to the cerebellum then I might be able to ride a bike.

My partner lost his license and his bike is a lifesaver at the min for getting him out and about for fresh air,exercise and to clear the mind xx

Hi keeley , have you tried having the Epley Manoeuevre? It hasn't fixed my balance but it's improved it by millions. It was life changing - it can be done by a vestibular specialist. No drugs or injections or anything invasive.....they just turn your head about while it dangles off the end of the's astonishing, but I don't think it works for every type of head injury.mask your GP about it. It has worked like magic for me a couple of times this year. x

I didn't learn to ride a bike before my middle brain damage and although I can walk well (but slowly now as I'm 64 and have arthritis) I never managed to stay upright on a bike after the accident when I was 16 years old. From what I've read here it must depend on the damage and possibly if you could ride a bike before the damage.

No not a daft question at all! I couldn't ride a bike after my injury - it was like being four-years-old allover again! It was totally alien to anything though - a few practices and i 'got' it again... Just persevere - never let the brain injury rule you - take strides to force it to learn all manner of things because one thing really does lead into another...

I just wanted to remind folks that if you are registered disabled, or have similar special needs then the charity "charlottes tandems" will loan you a tandem for free. I borrowed one for four months, loved it , so bought one for me & hubby to ride. Can I encourage any of you out there to give it a go!🚴🏼‍♀️🚴🏻🚴🏼‍♀️🚴🏻 It's so much fun😁

Thanks for all replies it could be Sherwood Forest we go to. Not sure as that is a place they mentioned but it is quite far away so not sure. They have mentioned letting me have a go on a bike before then to see how I am. Probably will need to remind them though.

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