Therapist uses AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill to speed rehab recovery

Those who have gone through rehabilitation after an injury know the road to recovery can be both long and challenging. However, an innovative product—the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill—originally created for NASA astronauts, promises to help speed the healing process.

How does it work? First, the user slips into a special pair of shorts, complete with a disc around the waist, which seals the anti-gravity chamber closed. After stepping onto the machine and zipping the disc into place, air begins to pump into the sealed-off anti-gravity chamber. Users can select exactly how much air pressure they want to use; the higher the air pressure, the more their body weight is supported.

We asked Niki Varveris, MSPT, DPT, and owner of PhysioFit in Naples, and her client Colleen Kelly, 45, also of Naples, to explain what it’s like to overcome an injury using the AlterG—and how it feels to fly through a workout like a astronaut on the moon—without ever leaving earth.

HELPING CLIENTS DEFY GRAVITY

The new-age treadmill speeds recovery and keeps pain to a minimum, making it a wise rehabilitation method for competitive athletes, weekend warriors, and senior citizens alike, says Varveris. She adds, “Since the client’s weight can be reduced until they don’t feel any pain, patients can continue building strength and endurance while going through recovery. Competitive long distance runners are able to continue training and then go on to complete races when they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do so without the use of the AlterG.”

THE HIGH-TECH ROAD TO RECOVERY

Varveris’ former client Colleen Kelly is a prime example of what the AlterG is capable of. Kelly, a mother of two, is an avid runner and adventure-seeker. Although fear never stopped her from summiting active volcanoes or diving with sharks, discovering she had a stress fracture while training for her first iron-distance triathlon shook Kelly to her core. “When I saw the X-ray I burst into tears,” she says, adding “A lot of tears… I’m not sure how or why, because I was truly hysterical at this point at the thought of my race being in jeopardy.”

Knowing no diagnosis would stop Kelly from participating in her race, her doctor suggested she continue her runs on the AlterG at PhysioFit.

“For four weeks I trained on the AlterG—it was otherworldly. If I’d ever had fantasies about bouncing on the moon I’d say I’d done it here,” raves Kelly. When race day arrived Kelly felt better than she ever thought possible. “During the race, the blisters on my feet were killing me, but my shin felt fine. Even after the race, when the rest of my body was sore, my shin didn’t hurt,” said Kelly, who finished the race in an impressive 13 hours and 20 minutes. “I attribute my healing, while keeping my condition, to the AlterG. It truly is a miracle, and one I am very glad I found.”

Published by Dana Leigh Smith

Dana Leigh Smith has written for several wellness publications, including "Women's Health," "Men's Health," LIVESTRONG.com and Health.com. She loves Brussels sprouts, Starbucks and French Bulldogs.