The Alter G Treadmill

Learn more about the Alter G Treadmill at Memorial Hospital.

What is the Alter G Treadmill?

The Alter G is an anti-gravity treadmill. The treadmill is a standard, basic treadmill. It functions like a normal treadmill, but it has a large airbag around it that allows patients to be enclosed inside the airbag. It allows them to be unweighted to a certain percentage of their own body weight so that they can utilize walking on a treadmill to get back after injuries at a much quicker rate than what we normally would on a normal piece of equipment.

What type of patients would benefit from the Alter G?

We see a lot of patients who have had hip surgeries or hip injuries, knee surgeries or injuries, and ankle injuries. The reason they’re using the Alter G is because they may have had an injury or a surgery that they need to get back to walking. They may not be allowed to walk using their full body weight yet, so we can put them in the Alter G and can unweight them to whatever percentage either the physician who did the surgery wants them to be or at whatever level we feel is appropriate at that time. Then, they can begin their walking and exercise program in an unweighted environment at a much quicker rate.

What type of “air bubble” are the patients in while using the Alter G?

The way it works is the patients put on a pair of special shorts. The shorts have the zipper on the top of the shorts. The Alter G bubble basically collapses down. They can step into the machine, we pull the framework around them or at their waist level, and their shorts zip into the top of the bubble so their lower extremities from the waist down are enclosed in the air bubble. Then, we turn the machine on, which allows us to then unweight them from that point. 

How soon after surgery can the patient start therapy?

We do require that patients have a fairly well-healed incision just for safety reasons, because multiple patients are using the same equipment. In a pool setting where we’re worried more about the patient getting an infection, we don’t have to worry about that as much with the Alter G, so we can usually start them a little bit sooner than what they might be able to start in an aquatic environment. Usually a few weeks after surgery, we can start them in the Alter G, but then I have to wait a few more weeks to be able to get into an aquatic environment.

Can the Alter G be used instead of water therapy?

A lot of patients don’t always feel comfortable in water, so the Alter G is a land-based therapy. They don’t have the water around them. It does require a little bit of balance and coordination, so we also see some patients who have neurologic issues who can use the Alter G. One of the restrictions is they have to be able to balance from the waist up. There are hand grips on the Alter G that allows them to be able to control their upper body, but they don’t have to be submerged in water.

Is the Alter G at other facilities?

The Alter G is one of the only pieces of equipment like that in this whole region. A lot of universities and professional sports teams use them, but obviously, the general public does not have access to that stuff. So from a local perspective, we’re one of the only facilities in this whole region that has one.