The steps we take are the most basic form of function. One foot in front of the other, we walk. For many people, walking without pain is not an option because of neurological injury, obesity, disease and overall stress on joints with weight bearing.
But what if you could avoid Earth’s gravitational field? A trip to the moon, which has just 20 percent of our planet’s gravity, would be a therapeutic game-changer. So, a 200-pound individual would be the equivalent of 40 pounds in space. Walking would be more effortless. Naturally, we can’t fly to the moon, but we may get the next best thing to walking on the lunar surface.
NASA Ames Research Center for exercising in space puts patented gravity know-how into current therapeutic use. It’s a mix of air pressure applied by a specialized treadmill, called the AlterG. Today’s application of the AlterG means we can unload as much as 80 percent of our body weight. The implication that gravity can be altered allows movement to occur with less exertion.
And what does that imply for today’s patients? Anyone who has trouble walking will have the most to gain.
Orthopedically, it means patients can start post-surgical lower-extremity therapy earlier and more easily follow doctor’s partial-weight bearing orders.
For those walking with pain or obesity, it can be a moot point with the offset of weight load onto chronically worn joints. Therapists trained in the new technology adjust weight bearing for each patient. The air bag is pulled and zipped around the waist, which creates an airtight seal. Once the machine is calibrated, the chamber inflates and the air pressure creates upward lift.
The AlterG comes loaded with bio-feedback devices, which can improve mental processes that guide thought and action. There’s a live video camera and screen monitor to capture each step. With that visualization helping to control a body function that normally operates automatically, walking is improved.
Recovering mobility, walking and balance is now an easier feat with therapy incorporating bio-feedback devices with anti-gravity technology.
To schedule advanced therapy, call Melbourne Terrace Rehabilitation Center (321) 725-3990. They offer comprehensive outpatient and inpatient therapy services for short or long term care and are located at 251 Florida Avenue, Melbourne.