Anti-gravity treadmill saving knee patients' joints


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Anti-gravity treadmill
Features
  • Control unweighting from 100% to as low as 20% in 1% increments
  • Allows full range of motion for upper and lower body
  • Natural gait mechanics promote improved balance and strengthening
  • Keeps user in place, supports laterally and prevents falls
  • Highly comfortable at any level of partial weight-bearing for prolonged exercise
  • Accommodates a wide range of body types (90 - 400 lbs)

SALT LAKE CITY -- A new treadmill is making its debut in Utah. The device, developed by NASA engineers, allows people with joint problems to exercise stress free in an anti-gravity environment.

It's called the Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Osteoarthritis patient Gerrie Pinckney says, "It feels like you're walking on air. It feels light and doesn't put as much pressure on your knees."

With customized calibration, patients -- especially those with osteoarthritis -- can walk between 20 to 100 percent of their normal body weight.

Dr. Eric Lee, with the Utah Spine Institute, told KSL, "We want to be able to create an environment that will allow them to do their normal motions, but pain-free."

Like other patients, Pinckney is doing everything she can to postpone knee-replacement surgery.

"Some people will always need the surgery," Lee says, "but this has been able to take a lot of the population that normally would have it, and being able to prolong it or just take it all away."

In what is called "the injection room" at the Utah Pain Treatment Centers, Trudy Hallam got a series of injections to replace degenerating cushions in her knee joints.

Dr. Ryan Riggs injected a lubricant synthesized from rooster combs. It's the same stuff the body naturally makes for all connective tissue. Hyaluronic acid, as it's called, is very viscous or slippery material -- much slipperier than ice.

For patients in rehab, the anti-gravity treadmill painlessly retrains muscles to keep repairing joints moving and moving in balance.

Outside the therapy setting, professional athletes also use the machines to run up to 18 miles per hour without pounding the life out of joints they need to save for actual competition.

In fact, these anti-gravity treadmill machines allowed 2008 Olympic athlete Shannon Rowbury to gradually transition back to full training and to begin running six weeks before she was cleared to run on the ground.

E-mail: eyeates@ksl.com

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Ed Yeates

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