PLANO, TX – Imagine a treadmill encased in a high-tech balloon that creates an antigravity environment from the hips down. For a health professional like Plano physical therapist Jake Spivey, such a tool would offer enormous advantages for those recovering from surgery or injury – or even for athletes looking to build strength and stamina.
Well, such a technology – originally developed by NASA, of course – now exists in the physical therapy world in the form of the AlterG treadmill. It’s a tool Spivey and the physical therapy team at SportsCare & Rehabilitation in Plano (a Vista Rehab Partners clinic) are currently using to treat rehabilitation patients, as well as others looking to improve movement and performance in their lives.
After all, when you’re able to remove the pull of gravity from the rehab equation (unweighting), then slowly reintroduce it as the patient gains strength and confidence (progressive loading), amazing progress can be made, according to Spivey.
“Rehabbing with an AlterG decreases pain, encourages an active range of motion, protects healing tissue and, if post-surgery, doesn’t cause stress to a surgical site,” he said. “It allows the therapist to closely monitor gait mechanics so the clients isn’t compensating for too long, and maintains aerobic conditioning.”
Most known options for unweighting and progressive loading include the use of a harness or exercise pool. Such options, however, can be uncomfortable, imprecise, or require space and resources not available within most clinics.
With the AlterG, however, Spivey can manipulate the antigravity environment specifically to clients’ needs throughout the course of treatment, reducing a person’s body weight by 20 to 100 percent in 1 percent increments. When rehab begins, the weight-bearing load can be light, then progressively increased as the patient recovers.
The AlterG offers benefits for clients suffering from neurological conditions (i.e., Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy), too.
“It is a very safe environment for someone who struggles with standing, balance, weight shifting or reaching, especially if they are a fall risk,” Spivey said.
Those struggling to lose weight through exercise can also benefit from use of the AlterG.
“Imagine you’re 260 pounds and have a hard time walking for 10 minutes,” Spivey said. “On the AlterG, we can unload 40 weight-bearing pounds, allowing the client to walk for 45 minutes. This is often more motion than they’ve been able to sustain for a long time. One client testimonial on the AlterG website said, ‘It felt like flying on my feet.’”
The same can apply for athletes looking to improve performance, times and distance. In fact, runners have embraced antigravity as a training and rehabilitation tool, Spivey said, because it allows them to follow their training plan without putting undue stress on their bodies or delaying healing.
“Some clients may be more hesitant to try the high-tech solution,” Spivey said. “But once the pocket is sealed and the AlterG is calibrated, they can feel an immediate difference. Most actually enjoy the antigravity treatments.”
ABOUT VISTA REHAB PARTNERS
Vista Rehab Partners is an independent, therapist-owned network of 19 outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinics located in the North Texas Area. We provide personalized physical therapy, sports rehabilitation, and injury prevention services to patients through a hands-on approach is designed to return you to your full potential, as soon and as safely as possible.
CONTACT: Megan McNeal, LAT, ATC, CKTP
Sports Medicine Outreach Coordinator, Vista Rehab Partners
214-402-4165 (Cell), firstname.lastname@example.org