WNYT.com

The anti-gravity treadmill. It's like running on air.

Posted at: 02/04/2013 3:13 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 5:45 PM
By: Benita Zahn

Michelle Mickalonis is training for a triathalon in May. But an injury to her Achilles tendon almost sidelined her running.
As a client of physical therapist, Hector Jasen, she's not losing a step thanks to training on the Alter G- the so called anti gravity treadmill.

"I thought, oh my God. I have to have this machine. I felt so great. I never ran so fast. I felt like I was running on the moon" exclaims Michelle.

    This is how it works. You put on special shorts that have a tutu like attachment. Then you're zipped into the machine. Your weight is recorded and then you and the physical therapist decide how much weight, in essence, to take off. Air is pumped in and you feel like you're being lifted off your feet.

" Now, because of the anti gravity we can now put a patient there and be able to start,  any type of whether it's endurance training, gait training  balance training ah at a much faster rate" says Jason.

  Because your body is not taking the kind of pounding it would at full gravity.
  Thanks to an array of cameras, patients can watch their gait - Very helpful for Bob Silverman as he works to regain his natural stride - a back injury left him with foot drop and a tendency to stumble.

"And in addition with the video feedback" explains Silverman, " I can actually watch myself. And one of the goals Hector's trying to work on with me is to improve my muscle memory, my walking, my feet so I can actually watch myself, time my stepping properly."

   This is not a replacement for other, traditional physical therapy treatments- just another tool.
   It's also useful for runners who want to add miles without the pounding and people who are overweight -starting an exercise program. Right now the FDA approved piece of equipment only comes in a professional model.

"if you had 40 grand would you buy it for the house?" I ask Michelle

"Yes, definitely. "