Lehigh Valley

'Walking on air,' new gadget speeds rehab for patients

Good Shepherd unveils anti-gravity treadmill.

Anti-gravity treadmill

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A health care provider in Allentown is defying gravity, while helping patients get back on their feet.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network recently purchased an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

The machine uses NASA technology that reduces gravitational pull, which virtually helps rehab patients feel nearly weightless while on their feet.

"It's kind of like a pool without the water, a harness without the harness," said Michael Autodore, with AlterG.

The machine allows patients to operate at a reduced percentage of their body weight, essentially taking away the impact and stress of walking on sensitive joints.

A user can drop to as little as 20% of their body weight, according to Autodore.

"Ultimately what it does, is it gets the patient, athlete, grandma, aunt, uncle, up and walking sooner in a fall-safe environment," Autodore said.

Autodore said the treadmill could lead to shorter rehab times.

Kirby Garcia, 19, is a patient at Good Shepherd and currently recovering from an ACL operation.

Up until about three weeks ago, Garcia used a traditional treadmill in his routine.

Now, he uses the AlterG.

Garcia said he feels major differences with new treadmill.

"I don't feel the pain that I usually do in the treadmill. It feels good. Actually feels like my knee is bending more and grabbing the pattern to walk," Garcia said.

Each session, Garcia is increasing his body weight on the machine, until he's able to reach his full body weight.

His physical therapist, Jim Kelley, also recognizes benefits.

"When you take weight off, you can take away some of those compensations, so he can get that normal flow back," Kelley said.

The treadmill is also equipped with three different cameras that allow the user to watch their feet in motion.

Kelley said that allows Garcia to self-correct his steps.

"He can just look at the monitor, instead of looking down, and feel what he needs to do," Kelley said.

The machine, which runs about $35,000, is also used for geriatric patients and elite athletes, according to Autodore.

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