Anti-Gravity Care in Physical Rehabilitation

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Advances in the rehabilitation field are focusing on how taking away the strain of body weight can help heal and improve our bodies through anti-gravity care. Sarah Pettyjohn, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Sundog Rehab Practice Owner, suggests that three groups of people benefit immensely from anti-gravity devices: Those recovering from lower-extremity injury, those with arthritis, and athletes. 


When it comes to rehabilitation, the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill is one example of an anti-gravity device. Using NASA Differential Air Pressure technology, this device allows the physical therapist to take some of the weight off a person, up to 80%. In addition, the treadmill collects data including the user’s weight distribution, stance time, and time spent on each leg, letting the physical therapist analyze their walking and running mechanics. 


Dr. Pettyjohn explains that this technology allows physical therapists to do great things, especially for those recovering from surgery. “It allows us to return patients to walking sooner after surgery. Sometimes there are weight restrictions after surgery, meaning someone had to walk with a walker, crutches, or a cane. With the Alter G Anti-Gravity treadmill, we can bring down their body weight to a safe percentage and practice walking with normalized mechanics.”


Another population that benefits from this technology are those with arthritis. These individuals commonly experience the pain that total body weight on their sensitive joints can cause, making simple movements, such as walking, more difficult. Using the Alter G Anti-Gravity treadmill, they can walk or run with only a percentage of their weight, resulting in less pain. “Those with arthritis can lose weight, maintain their fitness levels, and exercise without the pain of arthritis,” explains Dr. Pettyjohn.


Athletes are yet another group that can benefit from training on anti-gravity devices. “As we take body weight off of athletes, they can train at a faster speed,” said Dr. Pettyjohn. This results in better training of the fast-twitch muscles, which are essential for excelling in sports. One method used for athletes is gravity intervals. As Dr. Pettyjohn explains, “We put the speed at a high level, then slowly introduce more and more gravity.” 


This device does have some key differences from other options in the rehabilitation field. One such example is using a swimming pool to exercise, which also helps reduce the force of gravity on the body. However, when exercising in a swimming pool, there is still the resistance of the water to contend with. This may be ideal in some situations but unwanted in others. 


Another treadmill option is a bodyweight suspension treadmill. On this type of treadmill, you would be placed in a harness and hung from something overhead. In comparison, the alter treadmill inflates around you and supports you as if you’re in a giant bubble. As Dr. Pettyjohn explains, “This allows you to continue moving your pelvis, back, and arms normally, whereas the harness doesn’t allow a normal gait mechanic.” 


The Alter G Anti-Gravity treadmill can also be used as a wellness option at Sundog rehabilitation; it is not only available for use by patients. This allows anyone to benefit from this anti-gravity device, even without making an evaluation appointment with a therapist. 


To schedule an appointment or enquire further about the Alter G Anti-Gravity treadmill, visit us at or call 605-787-2719.

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