Postural gait training and balance restoration are essential components to the process of adequate rehabilitation. In many neurologic and orthopedic injuries, the ability to walk normally can be harmed and impaired; thus, immediate physical therapy intervention is required.

Balance and postural training are also a vital practice for the senior population. Various strategies can be applied like treadmill training, perturbation exercises, and biofeedback practices.

Yet, many intervention platforms require moderate to high physical function abilities to participate, which may limit the accessibility of various patients to training. Hence, intervention platforms, such as hydrotherapy and the AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill, allow people with disabilities to train safely and to gain optimal physical and physiological training functions.

 

The AlterG treadmill is considered a valuable tool to build and promote an optimal rehabilitation process. Biomechanical qualities, such as the effect of body weight during training, can be controlled and manipulated. NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) developed this unique treadmill technology for astronauts to train in anti-gravity conditions comfortably. Thus, the need for training under zero or reduced gravity conditions was also recognized in the rehabilitation discipline.

 

Participants’ Experience

Once patients step up on the treadmill, the training environment is modified and transferred by a big inflated bubble of high forced air pressure that wraps the body from the waist to the feet. It applies air pressure that is equal to bodyweight, which, in this way, causes an unloading effect that reduces up to 80% of a patient’s weight. Eliminating or decreasing the load and stress on the lower body during training while maintaining complete physical function in patients is considered the gold standard in rehabilitation as it represents a suitable training environment for orthopedic, neurological, and chronic conditions, as well as for seniors, and even for sports performance.

In almost all physical dysfunction conditions, the treatment protocol encourages patients to get on their feet as soon as possible. Health complications associated with immobility are greater than the ones related to physical activity. Yet, physical dysfunction or pain associated with physical activity can limit movement and patients’ ability to participate in physical recovery training. Thus, in these cases, the AlterG is the perfect rehabilitation tool due to zero gravity and the reduction of body weight, which allow most individuals to walk on this treadmill freely. Similar effects can be seen in those who require a wheelchair to move around on land; on the AlterG treadmill, they may be able to walk independently.

Unique Rehabilitative Elements

1) The effect of body weight can be controlled for low impact and pain-free movement.

2) Optimal technology can correct balance, gait, and postural sway.

3) It encourages movement and motor learning in various physical conditions and levels.

***Purchasing such equipment for the home requires significant capital investment ($35,000- $70,000); thus, this piece of equipment is mostly used in physiotherapy clinics.

 

AlterG clinics around the NYC area:


Other Treadmills

Depending on your physical level, other rehabilitative treadmills can provide an adequate training platform to improve gait, posture, balance, and other fitness qualities such as aerobic and muscular strength. Essential features to consider:

1) Lower entry or embedded ramp to secure access to the walking surface

2) Full-Length handrails

3) Cushioned and low impact walking surface

4) Safety belt