Cycling and epilepsy

28th August 2019

It’s more common than you would expect for people with epilepsy to wonder whether it’s safe to cycle or not. This is partly due to the growing popularity of cycling as a form of exercise and enjoyment, but also because many people with epilepsy are unable to drive until they’ve been seizure-free for over a year. 

Cycling is often seen as an inexpensive alternative to short-distance travel for those who are unable to drive. However, it’s understandable that people with epilepsy may be hesitant to ride a bike due to the chances of having a seizure while riding. 

Firstly, it’s possible and encouraged for people with epilepsy to take part in any activity that interests them within reason. In addition, there are no legal regulations to stop people from epilepsy from cycling, unlike driving a car. 

There are many people with epilepsy who enjoy cycling regularly, whether for enjoyment or convenience. There are, however, a few considerations that should be taken into account before choosing to cycle. 

Protective gear is essential

For any cyclist, wearing appropriate protective gear is an absolute must, but it can be especially important for a person with epilepsy where the chances of a seizure and coming off the bike can be increased. As an absolute minimum, you should ensure you are wearing a good quality helmet to prevent head injuries in the event you fall off your bike. You may also consider wearing additional protection, such as knee and elbow pads to prevent injury to vulnerable areas of the body. 

Avoid busy roads

Wherever possible, we would recommend avoiding busy roads in favour of country lanes if possible. If you feel that there is the potential to have a seizure whilst cycling at the side of a busy road that could be dangerous for yourself and other road users. Make use of any cycle lanes wherever possible as they will keep you as far away from traffic as the road will allow. 

Cycle in pairs (or a group)

If possible, it’s always a good idea to have someone else with you whilst cycling who is aware of your epilepsy and what to do in the event of a seizure. Of course, it’s not always possible to have someone with you, but particularly on longer rides where exhaustion can potentially make a seizure more likely it is recommended. 

If you’re cycling purely for enjoyment you might consider joining a cycling club with other riders. Just be sure to let the organisers know about your epilepsy to ensure that any special requirements can be met, such as avoiding overly busy roads.

If you are riding alone, at least let someone know of the route that you intend to take so that someone can come and find you should you become lost or disoriented following a seizure. 

Don’t go too remote

Cycling in the countryside can be one of life’s great pleasures, however, it’s a good idea to avoid riding anywhere that’s too remote, especially if you’re riding alone. Should you have a seizure with no means of contact or suitable vehicle to get you to help if you need it could be dangerous. 

National Epilepsy Training can help

For more information on cycling and other forms of exercise with epilepsy, please feel free to get in touch. Call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk