Anti-Gravity Treadmill

April 19, 2010 9:07:31 PM PDT
Wayne Kursh,56, of Wilmington, Delaware first had problems with his left hip a few years ago while on a golfing trip. It lead to him eventually needing a total hip replacement. He had surgery and then rehabilitation. Then this past March, he had to have his right hip done but this time rehab. included something new. The AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill.

The treadmill was developed using NASA technology. It uses air pressure to allow patients to walk or run without carrying their full body weight.

"So we can take someone's effective body weight down to 20%, 30%, 40%, 80% whatever we feel is appropriate for a client," said physical therapist James "Hash" Hashimoto of Elite PT in Wilmington said this helps a patient keep their mobility without pounding on their joints.

Kursh said, "It kind of like juiced the hip- it got me moving without the pain."

And because there's less pain, Hash said patients can move more and build endurance faster. Hash is also a former trainer for the U.S. men's national soccer team and he credits the AlterG with helping soccer star Charlie Davies. Davies was in a tragic car crash last October. He suffered multiple fractures in his lower leg among other injuries. Many say he's fortunate just to be alive.

Hash said when Davies first arrived for rehab. He needed help just standing but 12 weeks after the accident he was up jogging at 70% of his body weight. "There's no way he could have tolerated the pounding on his joints in a running type of movement without the assistance of that," Hash said.

Davies is now back playing soccer for a French team. His goal is to be back with the U.S. national team in time for the World Cup.

"He's on the verge of proving a lot of people wrong," Hash said, adding,"Getting back to a level no one thought he would let alone in five weeks time."

Still Hash is clear to say the treadmill can't heal bones faster but getting patients up doing regular movements such as walking without pain gets them back to living normally faster. Kursh starting out walking at just 50% his body weight days after surgery. Four weeks later, he is now up to 80%.

"I really, really believe I'm about a week and a half ahead of schedule from my left side using the AlterG," Kursh said.

Because it is new technology, studies are still underway to prove the benefits of the AlterG. Elite P.T. is one of the only rehab. centers in our area using the new treadmill. However, several professional and college sports teams including Princeton University have a higher-end version of the AlterG.