Just a "zebra" trying my best to live life to the fullest with EDS and POTS...and loving the ride.

An Unweighted Experience

Written by Katie. Posted in Physical Therapy

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Okay, here’s my lowdown on the new anti-gravity treadmill at my physical therapy center (MSU Rehabilitation at Michigan State University).

It was a strange experience.  Not bad strange, just different and something I needed to get used to. 

First, I was given these extra tight biker shorts that had a circle at the top around my waist with a zipper.  Like spanx x1000.  It took me seriously 5 minutes to get into the shorts, but once I was in, I was IN.  Sidenote: everyone else working out thought it was pretty hilarious watching me maneuver my “good-sized” thighs into these shorts. Glad I could be a source of comic relief.  Then I had to step onto the deflated chamber and onto the treadmill so I could be zipped into the chamber.  This took a few tries but we got it.  Next, was locking the chamber so I stayed in nice and snug.  Finally, we were ready to start the calibrating process so the machine would start.  During this process, the treadmill shows a bunch of different numbers (which I have no clue what they mean) except I know that one of the numbers is my weight. It was not cool that the machine said I weighed 20 pounds more than I really do, but whatever.  Then my therapist decided to have me walk at 70% of my weight, so she plugged in the numbers that were needed and pushed start. Pushing that green button inflated the chamber and started a cold, blowing air into the chamber to slightly lift me up.  Once I was “lifted,” I was off and walking for 10 minutes.

My thoughts…

I think it would be an extremely useful machine for people with POTS.  I feel like it allows a POTSy to exercise standing up with as much decreased gravity as needed.  I love that it allows a gradual increase in the amount of gravity used as one becomes stronger and able to stay upright longer.

I loved the feeling of compression from the air and from the shorts as I walked. Leg compression for me seems to help my POTS.

There was a lot less impact on my joints as I walked, which would have allowed me to do so much more if I had had more time to spend on the treadmill.

I loved that there is a TV above the machine that shows your legs so you can watch yourself walk to make sure you are using the proper walking/running form.  I feel like this is something I personally need work on.

Another plus: You are locked in tight into the chamber so you cannot fall.  And I have been known to fall.  Just look at the treadmill burns on my legs.

I want to try running next time.  I have been walking on a regular treadmill for some time now but have had a difficult time running again.  I would LOVE to use this machine to work my way up to being able to do more running.

I was worried about my body readjusting to full gravity once I came out of it.  (Nothing makes me sicker than having to readjust to gravity after swimming).  However, I was happy that I experienced zero symptoms coming out of it.  I would be interested to experiment how much I can actually tolerate another time.

Having only a half-hour therapy session, I did not like that it took almost 10 minutes just to get started.  We talked about having me learn the machine myself and then after our thirty minutes, I could get myself onto the treadmill and do some walking on my own after my appointment.

And the last thing I learned: When you peel off the shorts after getting off, make sure you take off ONLY the shorts (which is difficult when they are pretty much glued to your body).  Otherwise you may give the other patients and therapists way more of a show than they bargained for.

I may or may not be saying this from experience.


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