Weightless Workout

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 8:39am

Anti-gravity treadmill lets therapy patients walk without full weight of their body.


Take a walk on the Alter-G treadmill and it feels kind of like you're walking on the moon.

It sounds fun, but this machine at the National Rehabilitation Hospital is actually being used to help patients walk again.

Patients like Cedric Leroux, who recently underwent extensive surgery on his lower back that left him barely able to move.

"Being still in bed 23 out of 24 hours a day you lose a lot of strength like that," said Leroux.

The treadmill works by creating an airtight bubble around a patient's lower body. The bubble then fills with air, which takes away some of the gravity so that users feel less of their own weight.

"We can take their body weight down one percent at a time from 100 percent all the way down to 30 percent,” said Michelle Vita, a physical therapist.

Vita says taking the weight off the legs, makes it easier for them to move.

That's especially helpful for patients who have undergone knee and hip replacements, or who have suffered from neurological conditions like a stroke or Parkinson’s disease.

Cedric Leroux started using the treadmill - just one week ago - he says he's already making new strides in his recovery.

"Normally, I walk pretty slow and in the machine, I doubled my walking speed in just 20 minutes," said Leroux.

Leroux says he hopes the Alter-G will help him fully recover from his surgery so that one day he can back to playing sports.

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