NASA breakthrough delivers outstanding results and ‘phenomenal’ confidence boosts

HCML has always supported the use of equipment innovations to transform rehabilitation outcomes.  Its clinical operations manager Kate Barton explains how it has deployed a powerfulNASA invention to dramatically improve life for clients in its care.

At HCML we have been using the Alter G antigravity treadmill very successfully with clients recovering from serious orthopaedic lower limb injuries at different stages in their rehabilitation.

This innovative piece of equipment developed by NASA allows people to move in new ways and with reduced pain.

The patient’s body weight can be gradually increased as part of a progressive weight bearing programme, strength training and stabilisation exercises and that is invaluable to rehabilitation in so many ways.

It increases their range of movement, normalises their gait pattern, reduces swelling, and boosts overall cardiovascular health and strength.  It can also be used for both forward and retro walking.

Early intervention with this treadmill gets clients up and mobilising in the correct manner, faster than just weight bearing with crutches, and this speeds up overall recovery.

The psychological benefits are phenomenal by increasing a client’s confidence in being able to mobilise without crutches safely, in a controlled way.

Of the clients we have case-managed, two illustrate the power of this treadmill very powerfully:

Case study – fantastic psychological boost

We arranged an initial assessmentwith a physio-led session on the AlterG machine for a client with an external fixater for a complex tibial fracture.

The client was given his own pair of specialist AlterG shorts, which were modified to allow him to put them on over the ex-fix.  He started his training programme walking for three to five minutes at 40 percent of his body weight. Within eight weeks he was up to walking for over 20 minutes at 80 percent of his body weight.  He then continued increasing his weight bearing and distance after the fixator was removed.

The psychological boost for this client of being able to reach his goals and to increase blood flow, fitness and promote healing, was fantastic.

Case study - runner restored to his 5k personal best

Another client was an aspiring long distance runner before sustaining serious lower limb injuries, and suffered ongoing knee pain stopping him participating in his sport.  We arranged a course of 10 hour independent sessions on the AlterG at a local clinic to encourage correct gait training and increase his confidence, at the end stage of his rehabilitation programme, and he was able to return to running and even get back to his 5k personal best over 8 weeks training, which everyone agreed was a spectacular result.