Anti-Gravity Therapy with the AlterG
One-hundred-million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. In fact, the leading cause of disability in Americans, under the age of forty-five, is back pain. Given these staggering statistics it is safe to assume we all know someone who suffers from a pain condition.
Not all pain is chronic in nature; pain may be acute or the result of an injury. Whether chronic or an acute condition, pain limits mobility. Lack of mobility and avoidance of activity interferes with daily living, and is often the beginning of a vicious cycle. Immobility leads to more pain from a sedentary lifestyle, decreased cardiovascular endurance, muscle weakness, weight gain and overall declining health. One of the biggest challenges in treating acute or chronic pain is breaking this pain cycle.
Clinicians have until recently, relied upon the use of body weight support systems requiring either a cumbersome and uncomfortable harness to suspend the patient, or aquatic therapy for buoyancy, often limited by water depth. Pool therapy was not appropriate for everyone due to fear, embarrassment in the water, surgical incisions and wounds, or incontinence issues. The challenge became to offer body weight offloading by other means than a pool or a burdensome harness system.
The answer to the problem arrived in the form of the AlterG, an anti-gravity treadmill system using NASA developed technology. The AlterG allows patients to experience up to 80% weight offloading with precise control. This is all done from the ground up using differential air pressure to lift the patient without the need for a harness or pool. The AlterG system is so effective it is being used in the top rehabilitation facilities throughout the country, by top athletes in 5 Olympic training centers, and 29 NFL, 27 NBA, 23 MLB, 3 NHL, and 3 MLS teams. Studies have also demonstrated marked land speed increases for athletes through eight week interval training programs using the AlterG.
Consider the fact that for every one pound a patient gains, it translates into an approximately four fold increase in ground reaction forces through the knee. Therefore, a patient with a five-pound weight gain will experience the equivalency of twenty additional pounds of force to their knees. The AlterG controls body weight in 1% increments allowing the patient to bear only 20% of their body weight. This reduction results in the patient’s ability to tolerate standing exercises, walking and even running, often pain free, in order to build strength, bone mineral density, cardiovascular health and also achieve weight loss through increased exercise and activity all without the jarring impact of full body weight.
In addition, the AlterG has been shown to be effective in treating patients with postoperative orthopedic surgeries of the hip, knee, ankles or feet as well as patients after stroke, with Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis or those with a history of myocardial infarction or balance impairments.
Idaho Pain Clinic in Sandpoint has seen significant positive outcomes from their patients using the AlterG as a part of their physical therapy program. Recognizing the benefits the device offers to the general population, Idaho Pain Clinic even expanded the AlterG’s use to allow the public access to the machine under the supervision of a certified personal trainer.
If you would like to learn more about the AlterG we encourage you to visit Idaho Pain Clinic to watch informational videos and links to information on the device. And, to inquire about an appointment to see if the AlterG may help you, please give us a call at 208-263-9757.
by: Amanda Thome, PT, DPT
Amanda Thome, PT, DPT graduated from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA with her Bachelors of Science degree followed by her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Columbia University in 2010. Since graduation Amanda has had the opportunity to work for some of the top ranked rehabilitation facilities in the country. Her clinical experience includes the treatment of acute and chronic conditions, post surgical rehabilitation, as well as a special focus on neurological rehabilitation including stroke and spinal cord injury, balance and vestibular disorders, and acute and chronic pain conditions.