Anti-gravity treadmill lessens pain for physical rehab patients

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 6:00 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
Lottie Brendall uses the Lemont Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center's new Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

LEMONT – When Judy Meister, 66, of Lockport, needed surgery on her left knee, she was unsure what to expect from the rehabilitation process.

Thanks in part to a new anti-gravity treadmill at the Lemont Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, she said she could not be happier with her experience.

The center began using the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill the week of May 13. It looks like a normal treadmill, with the exception of a large plastic bubble that encases the user’s lower body.

According to Cindy Yap, a physical therapist at the center, the machine uses differential air pressure to decrease the weight of the patient’s lower extremities. This allows patients to walk for longer amounts of time without feeling pain.

“It doesn’t put too much stress on the joint,” she said. “We are able to correct the way the patients are walking and get them to walk more.”

Meister, who arrived at the center on May 9, said she noticed the difference of the anti-gravity treadmill immediately.

“With a brand new knee, I was walking 15 minutes on the treadmill without a pain in my body,” she said.

By the time Meister left on June 6, she was able to walk 30 minutes on the machine without pain.

The anti-gravity treadmill is used by athletes recovering from injury, but Yap said it is also beneficial for elderly patients with arthritis and joint problems.

“It helps a lot,” she said. “You have to be very understanding with [elderly patients] in how far they can walk. You have to correct their walking pattern. It is so hard because they are limited with the tolerance of pain and tolerance of activities themselves.”

Yap said the machine gives low mobility patients confidence because they are able to walk longer and faster.

Meister said she will need to have surgery on her right knee next year and is looking forward to using the anti-gravity treadmill again.

“It’s a tremendous feeling,” she said. “When you live with pain and there isn’t a moment that you’re not in pain ... and then you come and you are able to walk upright. To me, that was an amazing feat.”

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