Professional Therapy Services, Inc. (PTS), which offers physical, occupational and speech therapy at several outpatient clinics in Illinois, is making the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill® available as a tool for weight loss.
“The AlterG is the world’s first and only treadmill that uses technology developed by NASA to unload body weight,” Jonathan Hamm, PT, DPT, site manager of the north Peoria clinic, said. “This patented technology enables increased mobility and pain-free movement through ‘unweighting,’ which allows patients to run or walk without bearing their entire weight.” He explained that in some cases – due to injury or weight gain – people find it difficult to exercise. “The AlterG can help.”
Safe Conditioning, “Unweighted” Exercise
The AlterG enables people of different ages and sizes (up to 400 lbs) to reduce impact on their bodies during exercise and achieve results through its Differential Air Pressure (DAP) technology. DAP applies a lifting force to the body and reduces weight on lower extremities for precise “unweighting” – removing up to 80 percent of a person’s body weight – so users can exercise without muscle/joint pain or discomfort.
“The AlterG offers the weightless ease of moving with less gravitational force,” Hamm explained, “while utilizing different muscles and movements than swimming. Plus, there are no special requirements for clothing – you simply pull on a special pair of ‘shorts’ over your clothes and you’re good to exercise. Of course, a free demonstration – under the supervision of a physical therapist – is required the first time you use it.”
No Pain, No Gain? Not with AlterG!
Hamm, a physical therapist, said eliminating pain or discomfort during exercise on the AlterG can produce better quality of movement, especially under the watchful eye of a therapist who ensures proper usage of the treadmill. Although PTS has not yet had patients using the AlterG solely for weight loss, it has already provided patients with the ability to exercise at higher levels during rehabilitation. Many have noted the AlterG enables pain-free exercise while burning calories, building strength and reducing the risk of injury during exercise. The difference between rehabilitation and weight loss is based on the individual’s physical needs; length of time, percentage of weight and speed are increased to enable better workouts.
When Gardner Hatch had complications as the result of colon cancer, he basically had to “relearn everything.” With a weakened left side, he began working out and learning how to walk better on the AlterG.
“All the improvement I’ve seen has been steady,” he said. “And Jonathan has helped monitor my exercise, focusing on posture and the proper way to walk. It has helped because I tend to shuffle my feet, but he tells me when I’m walking incorrectly. Over time, my endurance has increased and I am shuffling my feet less.”
Another user of the AlterG, Ann Gargiulo, had been limping for about a year with pain in her shin. After a PTS therapist recommended an MRI, she discovered the pain had resulted from compensating due to arthritis in the hip. “The AlterG is wonderful; I can get along with about a third of my weight off, and Jonathan – through his monitoring – helped me to change the way I began walking as a result of trying to compensate for the pain. The AlterG allows me to have a good aerobic workout without further injury or pain. I also feel better after my time on the AlterG – lighter on my feet and more flexible.”
The Benefit of “Unweighting”
“Unweighting is achieved by inflating the air chamber on the AlterG to gently lighten the user to the desired body weight,” Hamm explained. “Users feel like they are walking on the moon. It’s been used for a variety of rehab applications, including helping patients to use their legs more effectively after injury or disease. Many who have been unable to walk or run under normal conditions find that the AlterG enables these activities without pain or discomfort, contributing to their body’s strength, cardiovascular fitness and weight loss over the long term.”
Some may feel uncomfortable about using the machine, but PTS offers a free demonstration and therapists are always nearby in case of questions. “Sessions are customized for each person, depending on their own endurance and goals,” Hamm said. “Most will want to use the AlterG 10-15 minutes when they start, unless they are really active. We will make recommendations and track progress, advising when to decrease unweighting and increase speed for maximum benefit.”
Renting Time on the AlterG
The only one in the Greater Peoria area, the AlterG is currently available for use at the north Peoria clinic, which is located in the UnityPoint Health-Methodist offices at 2338 West Van Winkle Way (off Route 6 near Allen Road). No referral is necessary, and minutes can be purchased per session or in a monthly package. Group packages are also available upon request. The clinic is open weekdays and by appointment. For a free 10-minute trial, call (309) 693-9189. For more information, check ptsinc.org.