At the moment, there is only our treadmill in Bishop’s Stortford and one in Cambridge in the whole of East Anglia.
Our charges for using the AlterG will be £20 per half hour for patients registered with Stort Physio and £25 for everyone else.
Typical clinical use
- Orthopaedic rehabilitation - following injury, fractures, joint replacement surgery.
By reducing the loading through the body by as much as 80%, this allows for much earlier mobilisation and restoration of normal movement patterns.
- Neurological re-education and gait re-training - including Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis.
Research has shown that the risk of falls in Parkinson’s patients can be reduced by as much as 90%. Safely exercising and walking in the AlterG maintains, and improves the gait and can even improve the patient’s cognitive ability.
- Falls prevention and elderly rehabilitation.
Patients cannot fall in the AlterG, so in this secure, and often pain free environment they are able to improve their walking, strength and endurance. As the treadmill can go forwards or backwards, with or without and incline, then patients can work on walking up or down hill and even stepping backwards – without the fear of falling.
- Weight control programmes
75% of bodyweight is the most effective for cardio-vascular work and weight reduction. Patients can be progressed towards this goal, but the treadmill also serves to show patients what it would be like to move and exercise at their ideal weight. This gives them the additional impetus to lose the excess weight.
- Therapeutic exercise standing or moving on the treadmill.
the AlterG is not just a treadmill. Again, because of the reduced loading through the joints, exercises can be done in standing to gain the confidence, strength and endurance needed ultimately to walk and even run. There will be some patients for whom just the exercises make a significant difference as part of their total rehabilitation programme.
- Musculo-skeletal medicine – including Sports injuries and sport training
This is the most obvious area where patients with soft tissue and joint problems can be mobilised far earlier than usual because of the reduced weight loading. It is also being used as a training programme for those who need to achieve higher running mileages without the increased risk of injury.
- Chronic pain and back pain
To be able to put patients in a completely safe environment where they can re-learn how to move without pain is a significant benefit for those patients who are currently only managed with increasing medication.
What does the Alter G do?
By using NASA Differential Air Pressure technology, the AlterG is able to comfortably “unweight” clients by as much as 80% of their body weight, in 1% increments. This significantly and precisely reduces impact forces, helping to minimize discomfort and encourage movement. This creates a safer environment for users to work on technique and increase their walking volume.
This technology is not new. Sean Whalen and his father developed the original prototype of the Anti-Gravity Treadmill in the family garage. They used technology developed by NASA to create a treadmill that unweights a user through "differential air pressure. The AlterG achieved FDA approval as a medical device in 2008.
This treadmill has a number of interesting features
The treadmill itself can go forwards or backwards. It also has an incline facility, which means that patients who have trouble walking up – or down a slope can practise this in a completely secure, safe and graduated way.
Being able to reduce their body weight loading on the legs, it means that they can move freely and as they become stronger, then the weight can progressively be restored in as little as 1% increments until they can continue to move freely, but with 100% of their body weight applied.
There is strong research evidence that using the AlterG for 30 mins, 3 times a week, then the falls experienced by Parkinson’s patients can be reduced by more than 90%.
Age is not a barrier to using the AlterG. Elderly patients also at risk of falls, can be put into a safe environment where they cannot fall. By reducing the applied body weight then the normal movement patterns can be restored, proprioception and balance mechanisms can be re-activated, and restored.