After surgery or injury to a lower extremity, one of the most difficult challenges one will face is attempting to resume walking normally. We become very adept at making both subtle and significant changes to the way we walk to avoid pain. We, as humans, find a new solution for movement. Whether it be a slight limp, overcompensating with one joint to avoid stressing another, or using muscles in ways that they weren’t designed, this new solution is often not a good solution to our pain and limitations, and we have the tools to fix that!
AlterG Treadmills are constantly being utilized in treatment programs to shorten recovery times, reduce injury, and improve mobility for patients. Using its weight reducing ability, The AlterG anti-gravity treadmill was designed to return to walking after injury, surgery, or pain sooner than before while still walking or running normally.
This technology was originally developed by NASA. In the 90’s, NASA began looking for a pressurized method that would allow astronauts to maintain fitness during space missions because without the movement they were at risk for bone mass and muscle loss. This lead to the birth of the AlterG.
The AlterG quickly gained notoriety for helping long-distance runners achieve more mileage without injury. It allowed elite athletes to train at their limits week after week without fear of breaking down and/or creating an injury. Soon, rehab professionals realized the potential for use was much greater.
Being able to walk without a limp as early as two or three days after surgery allows patients to use their muscles and joints normally again, all with minimum or no pain while doing so. Patients are then able to work with their therapist to develop a plan to return to walking at full weight, while making gradual increases and maintaining normal muscle joint patterns with minimal to no pain.
What’s the AlterG experience like? AlterG’s treadmill looks like something from the future, a vacuum sealed bubble encompassing your lower body and the treadmill belt. You put on a pair of tight neoprene shorts, which have a skirt around the waist that zips into the treadmill “bubble”. After putting on the shorts, you step inside the center of the treadmill. The case is pulled up to waist height and the two pieces are zipped together to create a seal.
The treadmill then measures your weight to begin calibrating what is 100% pressure for your body. At this point, you/your therapist can begin to increase the speed, just as you would with a regular treadmill. 100% will feel exactly the same as a normal run or walk.
The machine uses unweighting technology to remove pressure from your body and make it feel as though you are running on air. Using controls similar to incline, you can decrease the amount of weight on your body. Small incremental adjustments (1% adjustments possible) are available, from 100% weight bearing all the way down to 20%. Essentially, the machine can make you feel up to 80 percent lighter—a basic example would be someone who weighs 200 pounds, could feel as light as 40 pounds on the treadmill.
Whether it means running a marathon or walking to the living room, our goal is to bring you services that can keep you healthy, or get you on your feet faster after surgery/injury. We are very excited with the great outcomes that patients have had from bunionectomy, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, shin splints, generalized knee pain, post-op knee rehab, ITB syndrome, hip and groin pain, hip labral injuries, post-op hip surgery, and many other diagnoses/conditions.
Please contact one of our offices to schedule an appointment to see if the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill can help in your rehabilitation or fitness program. If you are planning on having surgery and wonder if this can be an effective part of your rehab postoperatively, please also contact one of our therapists to discuss.