Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Adaptive Trike Allows Veteran to Continue Cycling
In 2005, Army Veteran Kevin Watson weighed 345 lbs. and was forced to take blood pressure and cholesterol medicine due to his weight. He was also borderline diabetic and needed knee replacement surgery.
Determined to improve his health, Watson turned to cycling and began biking 10 miles per week. Over the course of a year, his rides gradually got longer, and he lost 178 pounds. By losing the weight, he no longer needed knee replacement surgery and no longer needed to take blood pressure and cholesterol medicine.
Through the years, Watson continued cycling and even started his own cycling group to introduce other Veterans to the sport. In September 2015, Watson also volunteered to participate in the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) Cycling Program as a mentor to other Veterans.
However, Watson also began to have balance issue on his bike, and suffered several concussions from multiple bike wrecks. His doctor at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center told him he should no longer ride a regular bicycle.
“Just before I fell, I was probably riding a little more than 100 miles per week,” said Watson. “I was commuting back and forth to work. So to not be able to ride at all was pretty devastating.”
Instead of giving up cycling altogether, Watson participated in the EOVAHCS Cycling Program and rode an adaptive tricycle, also called a trike.
“I was never interested in trikes but desperately wanted to start riding again,” said Watson. “I have since lost nine of the 16 pounds I gained since October.”
To give him the opportunity to ride at home, Watson’s doctor put in a referral to Outpatient Rehabilitation for a Catrike 700 Adaptive Trike, paid for by VA. To be eligible for the trike, Veterans must have a qualify diagnosis, actively participate in a cycling club and have a referral from a VA doctor.
In March, Outpatient Rehabilitation presented the adaptive trike to Watson.
“I’m really appreciative for what the VA has done for me, because I couldn’t go out and buy the Catrike,” said Watson. “I’m fortunate that the VA decided to bless me with it.”
During April 9-16, Watson participated in the Ride2Recovery Texas Challenge and rode his new adaptive trike 500 miles from Houston to Fort Worth. He is also participating as a volunteer in the Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge which will be held May 25, 2016 in Washington D.C.
Watson strongly encourages other Veterans to not only consider cycling, but to join the EOVAHCS Cycling Program.
“Cycling is something that everyone can do,” said Watson. “The Cycling Program allowed me to ride with my friends instead of riding the couch like I was doing. I became much more happier and feel I am on my way back to recovery doing the sport I love.”
Cycling Program Information
EOVHCS holds a cycling clinic each Monday from 10 to 11 a.m., Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, weather permitting, starting at the Main Entrance of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center. Veterans learn cycling skills and ride approximately 15-20 miles on Centennial Trail in Muskogee.
The clinics are intended for Veterans who receive treatment through the EOVHCS Behavioral Medicine Service or Outpatient Rehabilitation. However, all enrolled Veterans can participate by contacting their Primary Care Team.