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Asbury Park Press Article- Moving Ahead
New treadmill brings hope to patients, from runners to those with MS
2:28 PM, Aug 27, 2012
Physical therapist Pete Morro works with Tim Loftus, 49, of Marlboro on the AlterG Treadmill at ProCare Rehabilitation in Hazlet. Loftus, who has multiple sclerosis, walks weekly on the NASA-developed anti-gravity treadmill to maintain his mobility.’Many MS patients jump in a wheelchair and accept the progression of this disease,’ he said. ‘The AlterG is a tool that helps me fight it.’ / Robert Ward/Staff Photographer
Susan Bloom | For the Asbury Park Press
Compared to working out in the water, which Morro said offers the benefits of buoyancy but also has a drag, “the AlterG offers a better opportunity for patients to return to full functionality.”
“The process of bearing full weight can put tremendous pressure on the joints, so you can rehab faster and return to a normal life pattern more quickly with this technology,” Dellocono said.
After zipping into special neoprene shorts, patients seal themselves into the cockpit of the AlterG and allow the treadmill to calibrate to their weight; physical therapists then specify the weight offset that will maximize the patient’s workout.
“The most common conditions we’re using it for are orthopedic ones, such as stress fractures, heel spurs, knee replacements and tendonitis,” Morro said. “These patients might need to be on crutches otherwise, but the AlterG accelerates their recovery, allowing cardiovascular conditioning and gait mechanics to progress normally without pain and enabling the return of full weight to an extremity — which promotes healing — to occur faster.”
In addition to addressing orthopedic issues, the AlterG also has been successful in treating patients with neurological and other disorders. At Trinity, for example, “a patient of ours with Parkinson’s whose doctor implied that she would eventually be wheelchair-bound now feels able to walk around her home without even the support of an assistive device since working out on the AlterG,” Dellocono said. “Without a doubt, the ‘carryover’ that patients experience outside of the machine is definitely visible.”
That’s because the AlterG helps connect even the most gait-challenged patients with the critical mechanics of movement — natural rhythms that can be lost over time if they’re not used regularly. According to Dellocono, “the machine helps the brain reconnect the nerves with the muscles, retraining them to do something they’d forgotten and providing the opportunity for enough repetitions to re-create muscle memory.”
No one would agree more than Tim Loftus, a 49-year-old technology consultant and author from Marlboro who was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2008. Reliant on crutches or a walker around his home and a wheelchair for more strenuous outings, “the AlterG allows me to walk in a way that I couldn’t without it,” he said. “With the weight removed, I can walk in it without getting out of breath and it ensures that I don’t lose the natural rhythm of walking.”
While Loftus has accepted that there may be no cure for his condition, “I feel I haven’t declined in ability as much as I would have without the AlterG,” he said of the weekly 20-minutes sessions he’s undergone at ProCare Rehab since last spring. “Many MS patients jump in a wheelchair and accept the progression of this disease. The AlterG is a tool that helps me fight it.”
“We’re so glad Tim found us and this machine, because it allows him to walk, stay upright, exercise safely without fear of falling and live his best life,” Morro said.
For Loftus and an increasingly broad range of patients, from marathon runners, the elderly and those dealing with weight issues to patients suffering from arthritis, strokes and neurological conditions, “the AlterG represents a new day in physical therapy,” Morro confirmed.
“In addition to strengthening muscles, re-establishing important gait mechanics and restoring confidence and self-esteem, the AlterG is a liberating technology that offers hope for people who were stuck in a cycle of pain and frustration and convinced they could never do something again,” Dellocono said. “It offers so many people an alternative never before available in conventional physical therapy.”
Trinity Rehab is at 150 Chambers Bridge Road, Suite 200 in Brick and can be reached at 732-920-4500 or www.trinity-rehab.com . ProCare Rehabilitation, at 1 Bethany Road, Building 4 in Hazlet, can be reached at 732-335-8111. The Colts Neck office, 340 Route 34 South, Suite 210 in Colts Neck, can be reached at 732-625 0170, or www.procarerehab.com. Dr. John Connors’ office is at 200 White Road, Suite 108 in Little Silver and can be reached at 732-741-2300.