A boy & his bike

Zachery's Story

Every child remembers their first time riding a bicycle on their own and every parent remembers it too. For the Barlass family, it was extra special when their son Zachery, 3, felt the thrill of pedaling his bike by himself. Zachery came to Summit Therapy & Health Services with some motor development and speech delays. One motor delay that Frances Preston, occupational therapist, noticed was that Zachery was using a 'marking time' gait pattern on stairs. This is where one foot leads and the other joins it on each step.  Zachery needed to develop a reciprocal gait with only one foot landing on each step.

 The Barlass family, who live in Colfax, love to ride bikes as a family and Zachery especially wanted to be able to ride his bike with his sister. However, Zachery's immature gait pattern was making pedaling his bicycle impossible. He would push one pedal forward with one foot and push the other backwards, explained Frances. “Eventually, he just ignored the pedals because they were frustrating him.”

 Frances said, “It was more important to him to ride his bicycle than walking up stairs but it was the same motor movement issue.”

 So Frances got an idea. Zachery’s mom, Ashley, brought Zachery’s bicycle in to Summit Therapy. With some imagination, Frances used the plastic noodles from the hydrotherapy pool to lift up the back wheel of the bike off the carpet and exercise bands to hold Zachery’s feet on to the pedals. “From there, we had him in one spot and we could guide his feet in a circle so he could feel what the proper motion is,” Frances said. She also set up a course in the Summit Therapy building and Zachery was “weaving in and out of hallways.” He and his mom continued to work on him practicing at home.

 Frances continued this therapy with Zachery for approximately 3 weeks when one day, his mother sent a video of Zachery riding his bike by himself.

 “That was a very satisfying feeling,” said Frances.

 There was more. The a few weeks after that milestone, Mom sent word that Zachery was walking up stairs using the desired reciprocal pattern 100 percent of the time.

 Now Zachery and the family are enjoying the fruits of this therapy and their regular bike rides!


Philanthropy funded tools to complement the exceptional care through supporting the 2015 Annual Giving for Excellence Fund Drive for the hospital’s highest needs. Thank you for giving in support of 12 medical technology items and a remodel of Summit Therapy and Health Services’ patient locker room. Learn more.

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