The AlterG is an anti-gravity treadmill was originally developed by NASA for astronaut training. Luckily for the physical therapy world, this technology isn’t just for the astronauts anymore. Many physical therapy practices are beginning to add these hi-tech machines to their clinics to help with patient recovery. So how does an anti-gravity treadmill work? The AlterG uses a pressurized enclosure to provide a counterforce to your body weight. This allows you to walk or run at a fraction of your normal weight, reducing the impact force on your musculoskeletal system.
This technology can be used for a variety of purposes including:
- Rehabilitation of lower extremity injuries
- Treatment of neurological conditions
- Weight reduction
- Aerobic conditioning
- General training to combat the diseases of aging
As a physical therapist, I’ve seen first hand the benefits of using an AlterG as part of a patient’s rehabilitation. It is especially helpful for early mobilization following injury/surgery. Early mobilization is important in order to combat the loss of range of motion and de-conditioning that can occur after an injury or surgery. Exercising at a lower body weight in the AlterG has obvious advantages during this phase of rehabilitation by reducing the strain on recovering tissues and by providing an exercise stimulus to the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
Another benefit of the AlterG in rehab is that it allows for very specific unweighting from 100-20% of the users body weight in 1% increments. The ability to provide this specific unweighting is incredibly beneficial when working with patients who have specific weight bearing restrictions.
The AlterG will also help the individual to train with their natural gait and avoid developing compensatory habits that often come when walking with an injury. For example, if you were to have a knee replacement you could walk in the AlterG sooner after the surgery at a decreased weight with your normal gait pattern, allowing you to be mobile earlier. If you suffer an ankle sprain, you can walk normally (as opposed to limping) in the AlterG. By not altering your gait mechanics you avoid creating other problems that will slow your recovering or lead to re-injury or another injury down the road.
Aside from the physical benefits, just getting up and active again can help boost confidence and motivate patients to push themselves harder during the recovery process.
The AlterG offers many benefits for its users from rehab assistance to helping improve gait mechanics. Its precision unweighting and unrestricted mobility make it a highly effective tool for injury prevention and rehabilitation following injury or surgery. If you are interested in trying the AlterG contact us at our West Loop location for more information and to set up an appointment.