The question that has been asked a lot over the last 11 years, since we brought AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmills into the UK, is what the benefits are of differential air pressure v underwater treadmills. Professional sports teams were the first to see there are numerous benefits to using differential air pressure over water, that is not to say the water does not have its place in rehab as there are of benefits of using water. For example, rehabilitation of upper limbs and it is easier to increase Heart Rate when you are running in water as it is more difficult to push against the viscosity of water.
I remember the first conversation we had with a European Cup winning team when we introduced the AlterG to them and the words of the head physio at the time were “why do we need this as we have just spent over quarter a million pounds on a swimming pool that we can get a number of players in at the same time”. Only 2 weeks later, on asking how it is going the comment was “we let the academy use the pool the first team use the AlterG”.
There is a very good reason for this which includes:
- Unlike water you can get someone that has had surgery in the AlterG from day one without the risk of water affecting any surgery/infection risk.
- You can accurately unweight the user by precise one percent increments which is impossible in water.
- You can unweight someone from full body weight down to 20% of there body weight. If you are lucky to have a pool with a moving floor you can still only unweight between 20% to approximately 50% and not accurately.
- Muscle firing patterns and ground reaction forces mimic walking normally unlike water where you push through the viscosity of water and the faster you walk the more buoyant you become.
- Running costs are key and the cost of running a pool or underwater treadmill is significantly more than the running cost of an AlterG.
- AlterG can be used unattended, where appropriate, unlike water where you need at least one if not 2 people to help, maximising physiotherapists time.
There are many other reasons to choose the AlterG over water and it is such a great sight to see that many of our machines are going into private physiotherapy both Neuro and MSK plus more and more are being used by the NHS. 10 years ago, we claimed that the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill was not just a machine for professional sports, instead it will be a mainstream rehabilitation and performance tool. Fast forward to today and we now have over 100 machines in physiotherapy clinics and hospitals in the UK.
Louis O’Connor Clinical Lead at the Regional Trauma Unit at the Royal Victoria NHS hospital said “We are enabling people that can’t walk to walk, we are enabling people to run that can’t run”
Here’s to another fantastic 10 years of AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmills.
AlterG Guru & Managing Director of SportsMed Products Ltd.
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