Alter G anti-gravity rehab
We were invited to the Circle Reading Hospital to hear the announcement of a new four-year partnership with British Rowing to provide medical services and advanced rehabilitation support to the High Performance Programme.
Whilst the rest of the squad were loading boats onto trailers bound for the European Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic, British Rowing brought along three athletes rehabbing from recent operations – Angus Groom, Graeme Thomas and Sam Courty. All three had recently undergone arthroscopies (hip, hip & shoulder respectively).
As part of the tour we were shown the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill. This is the very latest physiotherapy tool allowing physios to get patients partially weight-bearing at an early stage following a lower limb injury or operation. The Alter G was originally designed by a NASA scientist to provide astronauts with a gravity treadmill to help them exercise whilst in space and reduce their risk of osteoporosis. The machine is able to reduce the bodyweight load by 20% to 100% enabling lower limb movement with incremental amounts of bodyweight bearing on the treadmill.
After some hesitation Graeme Thomas, an ex-rugby union player and now member of the senior men’s sculling squad, agreed to try the machine. This involved donning some less than flattering and close-fitting neoprene shorts which were then zipped into the tent-like structure covering the treadmill. The whole structure was then inflated thereby lifting and supporting Graeme and reducing the load through his legs. Once suspended the treadmill started and Graeme was able to walk with about 90% of his bodyweight being taken by the Alter G. This looks like a promising bit of kit and it’s not hard to see how it might speed up rehabilitation from surgery by getting the athlete moving a lot sooner in a pain-free environment.
Following the tour of the facilities it was off to the patient recreation room in the hospital for interviews with the press. Graeme Thomas, being the consummate competitive athlete, overlooked the free refreshments to challenge Sam Courty for a game of chess whereupon he demolished her in her maiden game in 6 moves.
Images & text copyright Rowing Classifieds/Angus Thomas