New Journal Article Highlights Potential Benefits of Lower Body Positive Pressure In Orthopedic Rehabilitation

A journal article published in the June 2010 issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation concluded that lower body positive pressure (LBPP) treadmill training devices could be highly effective for rehabilitation after orthopedic injuries and/or orthopedic procedures.

Body weight support has been used historically to unweight the lower extremities in orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation. The unweighting allows for decreased biomechanical stress to the musculoskeletal system, thus allowing for proper healing in orthopedic conditions. The ability to repeat walking movements safely and improve the quality of movement by modifying pain, also make partial weight bearing therapy an important part of treating neurological conditions.

Using the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™, researchers at the University of Colorado studied the effects of the only LBPP treadmill on the market today on walking. When compared to other unweighting modalities currently available, LBPP treadmill provides a huge advantage in maintaining normal gait kinematics, in ability to precisely measure amount of unloading, and in comfort to allow for use over extended periods of time. The goal of this study was to determine how velocity or weight support changes would affect the metabolic demands and ground reaction forces (GRF’s) during walking.

About the Study

Using 10 healthy volunteer subjects, researchers measured metabolic power, GRF’s, and stride kinematics while each of the subjects walked at 3 velocities (1.0, m/s) and 5 unloading parameters (25%, 50%, 75%, 85% and Full Body Weight).

Results showed that at the faster velocities, peak GRF’s and metabolic demands were higher. Walking at a lower body weight, the peak GRF’s were attenuated and metabolic demands decreased. By manipulating velocity and body weight support, the researchers showed similar aerobic demands could be created on the individual with decreased GRF’s, simply by increasing walking speed at higher amounts of unloading.

The study concluded that this ability to maintain cardiovascular demands with lower GRF’s shows LBPP treadmill devices could help optimize outcomes in future lower extremity treatment programs. While more studies may be needed to determine specific orthopedic indications and prescriptions, the ability to maintain neuromuscular and aerobic stimuli while reducing forces on the LE, by unweighting devices like the AlterG, could prove invaluable in orthopedic rehabilitation.

About AlterG

FDA cleared and built on NASA technology, AlterG is changing the way people recover and athletes train. Our unique technology allows you to run or walk at a fraction of your body weight, so you can dial in exactly where the pain stops and movement feels good again. Leading medical professionals are using AlterG to help their patients recover better and have a smoother return to activity. Top athletes and teams are using AlterG to recover and train smarter, reducing the frequency of training injuries by minimizing stress on their joints, while still building fitness.

A full copy of the aforementioned article can be purchased here.

— Jacon C. Chun, MPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS