The Alter-G antigravity treadmill is a great asset for our clients at Grace Lutheran Communities and it is also available to members of the Eau Claire community who ask about how it can be part of their rehab therapy.
Physical Therapist, Jen, who works with Midwest Physical Therapy at Syverson Rehab and Health, provided some insight on which types of clients are most benefitted by using the Alter-G for rehab. Jen said:
Neurological involvement with decreased lower extremity coordination and gait quality – the patient tolerates a longer gait training session at lower weight bearing, which allows for greater repetition and thus better muscle memory development for normal movement patterns. One of three camera angles can be selected to show the patient either a front, side or posterior view of their legs on the video screen, allowing them to see their gait pattern and make adjustments to their gait pattern with real-time visual feedback. They can “see” what their feet are doing without looking down.
Pulmonary disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia) or General Debility with poor activity tolerance – the patient tolerates a longer functional activity time ambulating in the Alter-G at minimized weight bearing. Vitals are easily monitored while they are walking. They can take standing rest breaks as needed while being supported by the Alter-G.
Weight-Bearing Restrictions – The patient with a lower extremity weight bearing restriction (example – hip fracture with an average 6 weeks of limited weight-bearing post-op) can be put in the Alter-G at a specific WB level from 20%-100%. 20% is considered “toe-touch” weight-bearing, so with a new post-op hip fracture repair, the patient can actually ambulate in the Alter-G and work on a normal gait pattern, functionally strengthening and re-training the muscles in that leg using normal, functional movement, rather than being limited to exercises in bed or chair and attempting to “hop” with a walker, which is not normal movement. This should lead to better outcomes with a smoother transition to normal gait pattern when the weight bearing restriction is lifted.
The patient with an upper extremity weight bearing restriction (examples – fracture or rotator cuff repair) who normally requires a walker to ambulate can be placed in the Alter-G. The Alter-G provides the balance support that their walker would normally provide, and they can continue to ambulate during their upper extremity rehab, which will minimize any decline in wellness or gait quality that might have otherwise occurred.