Nuffield Health – the UK’s largest health charity providing medical, wellbeing and fitness services to members and private hospital patients – is now offering the chance to do a little ‘moon walking’ with the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill during exercise and rehabilitation sessions.
The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill uses differential air pressure that can ‘un-weight’ up to 80% of a person’s body weight, allowing for stable support during rehabilitation.
Simon Webster NHFW MCSP HPC, former professional footballer and physiotherapist at West Ham FC and now the Lead Physiotherapist at Nuffield Health, said “We believe in the importance of integrated health and fitness, where patients and members can receive the best possible care in the most convenient way. We look to provide the most effective treatments, which will help people to recover and continue to achieve their goals. Be it for competition or general day-to-day life.”
Webster added, “I heard about the AlterG via my old mentor at West Ham. He invited me over to have a little look at it. I was very impressed with the piece of kit. We tried it in one of our clinics up in Nottingham and now in the City Fitness and Wellbeing Centre, where we’ve been trialling it for the past 8 months.
“What we have found is that you can get people up and weight-bearing a bit earlier than you would normally do. This has been particularly helpful for postoperative knee patients. Often it’s quite sore to start with when you’re coming back from an operation. We can get them on the AlterG, reduce the weight, try and encourage normal mechanics of walking a little bit earlier.”
John Hammond, Clinical Specialist for AlterG, said “The concept of the AlterG is fundamentally based on NASA technology of ‘Differential Air Pressure’. It’s based on a technique that’s familiar within the rehabilitation market which is partial weight-bearing, i.e. the ability to reduce the amount of weight going through one’s feet. NASA scientists looked at the weight-bearing status of their astronauts to help facilitate a training programme in space.
“They found that by using the air underneath someone, so effectively like a cork in a bottle, we can lift someone’s weight using air pressure, thus reducing the amount of pressure that goes through their feet. The sports market in America took this technology on because by reducing someone’s body weight, so the load going through their knees and their ankles is less, the body actually doesn’t need to work so hard. And that’s a benefit to a sportsperson, so that if they’re not able to work so hard they can get a better training effect.”
The AlterG works by filling a sealed chamber with air to offset a percentage of the weight of the person using it. It has two main functions: functional rehabilitation – promoting normal gait patterns whilst maintaining comfortable weight-bearing therapy. This allows people who have sustained injury, joint replacement or neurological conditions to regain function.
With sports conditioning, for both injury and regular training, the AlterG allows its users to maintain high fitness/cardio levels without the sustained impact on the body of ordinary running. Muscles within an athlete’s lower limb work the same as they would without the body weight support and that’s very unique to ’anti-gravity’ rehabilitation.