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PHOTO COURTESY OF HAN ASHLEY  Amy Beth Hopkins, owner of Your Personal Best PT, watches her son Jacob Alan Hopkins try out the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill at the outpatient rehabilitation department at Lakeway Regional Medical Center.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HAN ASHLEY

Amy Beth Hopkins, owner of Your Personal Best PT, watches her son Jacob Alan Hopkins try out the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill at the outpatient rehabilitation department at Lakeway Regional Medical Center.

By Joseph Vasquez

Contributing Writer

Space might still be the final frontier for most people, but patients undergoing physical therapy at Lakeway Regional Medical Center can now experience what it’s like to walk in space with the arrival of its anti-gravity treadmill.

The patented NASA technology treadmill manufactured by AlterG is designed to help patients who require this type of physical therapy as part of their rehabilitation program.

The AlterG anti-gravity treadmill is no ordinary treadmill found at gym clubs or home gyms. It may have similar features such as a speed controller, distance tracker, calorie counter, heart rate monitor and weighing scale among others. However, the similarities end there.

The anti-gravity treadmill is exactly what the name conveys. The treadmill is designed to simulate the sensation of walking on the moon. Patients whose rehabilitation require walking or running exercises such as cases of ankle or knee injuries are helped in their recovery process by this equipment.

Your Personal Best PT, a physical therapy clinic with three other Austin-area locations, operates the hospital’s outpatient rehabilitation department.

“The anti-gravity treadmill allows individuals to walk or run while only carrying up to a maximum 20 percent of their body weight,” said Amy Beth Hopkins, owner and license physical therapist at Your Personal Best PT. “It is a better alternative to swimming pool exercises.”

To experience the anti-gravity levels, patients are required to put on custom-designed shorts that feel like spandex. The shorts are designed to be zipped into the treadmill’s cockpit. Once the patient is on the treadmill with his or her lower body inside the cockpit, the anti-gravity process begins. The physical therapist may choose the level of anti-gravity required for the patient’s rehabilitation.

The anti-gravity treadmill has many other functions beyond helping restore strength to a patient’s lower extremities. Obese individuals who have joint muscle pains in their legs can also benefit from using the equipment. They can start to walk or even run on the treadmill because it lessens the effect of their body weight by as much as 80 percent.

“It gives them confidence when they get to experience how it feels to walk or run at half their body weight or even more,” Hopkins stated.

Your Personal Best PT has brought more than just the treadmill to the new rehab facility at LRMC. The clinic also boasts an artificial turf area for football players to practice running.

According to Hopkins, football players suffer more ankle sprains and ACL injuries when they run on artificial turf. The preventive exercises and training the clinic offers for football players on the turf should help lessen those injuries.

“We’ve worked with many athletes in the Austin area from high school to college to professional players,” she added.

Hopkins pointed out that their facilities in Austin offer physical therapy services not just for athletes, but for all patients who need it.

Your Personal Best PT is at 200 Medical Parkway, Suite 260, at Lakeway Regional Medical Center.

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