It might feel like strapping into a spaceship, and it kind of sounds like one too, but the company that makes the anti-gravity treadmill says it’s NASA-based technology here on earth.
“It was originally a way to try and weight astronauts when they’re in space, and we took the technology, inversed it, and made it an unweighting possibility,” says Mark Eiseman, regional account manager for AlterG, the maker of the treadmill.
The machine is the first of its kind in this part of Nebraska, debuting in the Rehab Center at GSS Hastings.
A patient wears special shorts over their clothes that zips into a bag around the treadmill. Then compressed air supports anywhere from 20- to 100 percent of their body weight.
“It’s ideal for patients with orthopedic conditions, anything lower extremity we’re FDA approved for, as well as neurological conditions, so stroke patients, Parkinson’s patients,” says Eiseman.
George Janko is recovering from a hip replacement, and helped demonstrate the treadmill at a ribbon cutting on Thursday. He says anti-gravity is like walking on air.
“They’ve been giving me all kinds of therapy and they finally got this machine here,” says Janko. “This is great.”
Rehab leaders say the precision of the treadmill is good for patients and for doctors.
“What means 20 percent? How do you measure now 20 percent of weight bearing, well the machine will do this for you very accurately, so [physicians will] be more keen to say, okay, go on, start that therapy earlier,” says Dorin Vaipan, the administrator for the Post-Acute Rehabilitation Unit.
The anti-gravity treadmill cost around $39,000 and was completely paid for with donations, something Vaipan says underscores the need for this kind of technology in central Nebraska.
Eiseman says the treadmills have been around about nine years, but they’re becoming more popular in rehab, and AlterG has about 2,000 in hospitals and centers around the world.