Gait Lab and Alter-G Treadmill Training
The Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill was designed and used by NASA to train astronauts in the reduced gravity environment. Since then Alter-G technology has been adapted for treatment and prevention of sports injuries. It has also been used by specialized rehabilitation centers dealing with post-stroke rehabilitation and rehabilitation from brain injuries.
Similar in basic design to a standard treadmill, Alter-G is enclosed by a surrounding airtight skirt. The operator allows air pressure to inflate the skirt into a ‘bubble’. Air pressure inside the bubble can be calibrated to varying degrees in order to counter the weight of the runner. The effect is similar to running in lower gravity and is considered extremely beneficial for professional training, medical rehabilitation, and many other applications.
Alter-G treadmill does not hamper mobility or create any discomfort. Patients are issued especially designed shorts that they wear over their clothing. The shorts are zipped into the ring of the skirt, creating an airtight seal around the waist. With the skirt inflated, the user maintains full ability to move, walk and run in a normal fashion within the bubble. A digital panel attached to an exterior frame serves as the control center.
The main purpose of the anti-gravity treadmill is professional athletic training. Many teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and athletes from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, including U.S. long distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein, have reported the anti-gravity treadmill a useful training tool.
Alter-G treadmill allows athletes to run longer distances at faster speeds than possible on the standard exercise equipment. By lowering body weight and pushing the cardiovascular system, runners can increase their stamina while drastically reducing body impact, allowing for longer training sessions.
Alter-G is widely used in Orthopedic Functional rehabilitation, rehabilitation of spinal injury and back pain, sports injury rehabilitation and prevention, post-traumatic rehabilitation, rehabilitation of repetitive use disorders as well as neurological rehabilitation.
The anti-gravity treadmill can reduced body weight to just 20% in one-percent increments. The effect of increased air pressure on the lower body is almost imperceptible. To decrease body weight by 80%, all that is required is to boost air pressure inside the skirt from 15 pounds per square inch (psi) to just 16.5 psi. To the subject it feels similar to standing waist-high in water.
Therapeutically, the anti-gravity treadmill can get patients mobile must faster, building muscle tone earlier in the recuperative process by taking the patient’s weight off of injured or newly repaired joints, knees or hips. Applications for the anti-gravity treadmill also include those with muscle or leg injuries, and recuperation for the elderly.
Weight loss is another application for the anti-gravity treadmill. By making exercise easier, particularly for the beginners, a patient can build up cardiovascular system, increase muscle tone and burn fat gradually and safely without adding stress to already weakened areas such as feet, ankles and knees.
ALTER-G IN ORTHOPEDIC FUNCTIONAL REHABILITATION
- Enables pre-surgery conditioning with significantly reduced pain (prehab).
- Calibrates Tolerated Weight Bearing from 20% of body weight to 100% in 1% increments, so patients can specify exactly where exercise becomes pain free and progress can be easily tracked and charted.
- Provides precise weight-bearing levels following injury or surgery to restore natural gait, range of motion
- Enables cardio training in people with herniated disc and sciaticas
- Facilitates rehabilitation of patients with hip related conditions
- Allows strengthening of knees and hips affected by degenerative arthritis
- Improves balance and confidence in Prosthetic training
ALTER-G IN NEUROREHABILITATION PROGRAM
- Facilitates neuromuscular and proprioceptive re-training
- Improves neuromuscular control and activity and promotes brain plasticity
- Enhances balance and confidence while emphasizing improved gait and stride length
- Provides safe environment for multi-task training and learning
- Enables higher work load and training intensity for cardiovascular health and gait