UTMB Home UTMB Wonders Zero-Gravity Rehab And now our anti-gravity treadmill works wonders for rehab. Learn more about how our technology is improving health and improving lives. Anti-Gravity Treadmill Using Technology to Train and Recover × Using Technology to Train and Recover Whether training for a marathon or just an evening stroll in your neighborhood, the pressure on your joints can take a toll. KHOU Houston reporter, Stephanie Simmons, discovers how the zero-gravity treadmill at UTMB Health is helping runners bounce back. New Service for Runners: Prevent Injury, Improve Efficiency × New Service for Runners: Prevent Injury, Improve Efficiency Are you a serious runner who always gets aches and pains at mile 14 of a marathon? Are you looking to improve your form and shed a few seconds off your 10K personal record? If so, a video running analysis could help. The analysis is a new service now offered by UTMB’s Occupational and Physical Therapy Clinic in Galveston. “So many things come into play when you are running, from your stride to your foot strike,” said Tyler Morrison, a rehabilitation aide and certified strength and conditioning specialist. “People think running is simple, but It’s actually a highly complex motion involving the entire body. Our goals are to help identify ‘bad habits’ that could lead to injuries and to improve overall efficiency.” As part of the analysis, Morrison records video of the patient running on a treadmill from several angles. He also performs a Functional Movement Screen that assesses seven basic movement patterns for functional limitations and asymmetries. Morrison works alongside Jeanne Smith, a sports and orthopedic certified physical therapist specialist, who analyzes the video with state-of-the-art software to identify movement impairments that are impeding efficiency and potentially leading to overuse injury. “I have software that slows the video down to 60 frames per second, so I can really see things like foot and ankle position when they hit the ground,” said Smith, who was a sprinter and hurdler in college. “From that, we can help people understand foot strike and what it means for the body and the amount of stress and wear and tear it places on us. Depending on where the weaknesses are, I can suggest exercises to improve form and prevent injuries.” Sarah Jones, a business operations manager with Perioperative Services, said the video analysis was helpful to her in preparing for the Chicago Marathon in October. She runs about 35 miles a week and wants to improve her form and stay injury-free throughout training. “They broke down my whole stride and provided some helpful critiques,” said Jones. “Now when I’m running, I implement their suggestions, such as extending my legs back further and keeping my arms at my side, especially when I’m tired. It is the small adjustments that can make a big difference. If it helps shave off a few seconds per mile, that would be an added bonus.” Smith hopes to get more runners like Jones into the clinic before an injury occurs. “I want to help keep the running community happy and healthy; preventing injuries is the main focus,” said Smith. “For runners to take part in this analysis, they have to be pain-free. We can give tips for form and improving their efficiency, but can’t treat someone with injuries unless a doctor refers them to PT. I can help point out where the main issues are that may be causing them to lose speed and give them exercises to target that. If I can help runners be more proactive instead of reactive—and enjoy the sport even more—I’d like to do that.” The video analysis costs $100 and is ideal for healthy runners looking to improve form and efficiency, not for the injured individual requiring rehabilitation. If you are injured, a running analysis can be conducted once you are pain-free and cleared to return to running by your physician. For more information, contact Tyler Morrison or Jeanne Smith at 409-772-8834. Anti-Gravity Treadmill Helps Patients Recover from Injuries × Anti-Gravity Treadmill Helps Patients Recover from Injuries Vicki Traylor’s journey began Jan. 5 with a terrible fall down a flight of stairs that left her with a concussion and her leg broken in several places. She faced multiple surgeries and spent four weeks in an external fixator with pins holding her shattered leg together. Tethered to a walker for months, Traylor underwent weekly rehabilitation at the University of Texas Medical Branch. For an active grandmother with 15 grandkids and another on the way, being incapacitated was heartbreaking for Traylor, 58. “My 6-year-old grandson Clayton asked, ‘Are you ever going to be able to walk with me on the beach again?’” Traylor said. “I immediately put the walker aside and became determined to walk normally again.” UTMB physical therapist Jeanne Smith had a plan to help her recover more quickly. “The AlterG anti-gravity treadmill is an amazing tool for rehabilitating lower extremity injury,” Smith said. The treadmill allowed Traylor the freedom to walk again comfortably by “unloading” about 50 percent of her weight. The instant Traylor began walking on the anti-gravity treadmill, she felt liberated. “I felt like I was finally normal again, doing something on my own,” she said. To use the AlterG, patients wear specially designed neoprene shorts and are zipped into a pressure-controlled chamber on the treadmill. Once activated, the chamber fills up with air, supporting the patient’s body and reducing the amount of weight felt. Users can walk, run and practice other weight-bearing movement in a reduced-gravity environment. The degree of lift is based on recommendations by the UTMB physical therapists and referring physicians. Users can feel 20 percent to 100 percent of their body weight and can gradually increase the amount they offload. For example, a 150-pound person at 20 percent anti-gravity factor would effectively weigh only 30 pounds on the AlterG. The treadmill also has an adjustable incline and allows the physical therapists to view a patient’s gait from any angle. UTMB’s AlterG also has a TV monitor that shows the patient their own gait, via three strategically placed cameras, thereby allowing the patient to correct any unevenness in his or her gait. Anti-gravity treadmills also are used by high-level athletes during physical therapy from a sports-related injury or surgery. “It enables athletes to get back in the game faster and to keep conditioning without losing their running base or endurance,” Smith said. UTMB’s Trish Wooten was determined to run her first Houston Marathon. She was training hard when she developed a partial tear and severe strain in her right calf just seven weeks before the marathon. Devastated, she began rehab at UTMB, and her physical therapist, Lisa Miller, suggested she try the anti-gravity treadmill. For Wooten, it was an emotional experience. “I cried,” Wooten said. “I didn’t think I would be able to run again for a long time. But when I got on it, at 70 percent of my body weight, I felt like I was floating.” She could see on the monitor that she was compensating for her injury on one side. She worked to correct it, all the while running pain-free. “I felt like I was in control of my recovery and became stronger even though I was injured,” she said. Wooten ran the Houston Marathon in January. “I know I couldn’t have done it without the AlterG and the amazing therapists at UTMB,” she said. According to Smith, anyone who could benefit from off-loading weight may use the treadmill — post-op patients, those with herniated discs, lower back pain, athletes, runners, even those with neurological conditions. Parkinson’s patients, for example, often have difficulty with step length. “On the AlterG, a patient with Parkinson’s can see on the monitor that his or her steps are too short and can correct to a more normal gait,” Smith said. “The repetition helps improve their walking patterns, which, in turn, decreases their fall risk.” Today, Traylor continues her weekly AlterG sessions and is looking forward to walking the beach with her grandchildren. Wooten has since run another marathon. A Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist × A Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist Nina Hernandez stands atop a fitness ball on one leg, demonstrating a stability exercise by slowly bending her knee while maintaining her balance. “Let’s try 15 of these in a nice and slow, controlled movement,” she says to a patient, with an encouraging smile. As a physical therapist at UTMB’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation clinic on the League City Campus, Hernandez brings indispensable energy and enthusiasm to her work helping those with injuries or disabilities manage pain, restore mobility and improve their overall quality of life. When I join her at 7:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, she’s already working with her first patient of the day, who recently had knee surgery for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. I’m immediately struck by the large, open gym area, complete with an indoor turf field and resistive and cardio equipment. (Hernandez and her colleagues moved from a smaller Brittany Bay location to LCC in June). Hernandez shifts her patient to a stationary bike, where she guides him through various movements as she tries to pinpoint the cause of his kneecap pain. “Most patients I see have problems with their knees, back or shoulders,” says Hernandez, who is an orthopedic certified specialist and also works with sports injuries. “I’ll see between 10 and 15 patients a day, so it’s really busy. Here at our clinic, we get more moderate- to high-functioning individuals, so a lot of ‘weekend warriors,’ athletes, teenagers and active adults and seniors. We want to get them back to their sport or job quickly, but safely.” Hernandez knows from personal experience how important physical therapy is to get back on your feet (literally) following an injury. Growing up, she saw her mother go through several hip surgeries and got a glimpse into the role of rehab and recovery. Then, as a high school student and competitive swimmer, Hernandez developed a huge tear in her rotator cuff. “They wanted to do surgery and I said no, so I went through an intense six months of rehab,” she says. “That’s when it really intrigued me, and I knew I wanted to have a career in physical therapy. I’m really interested in what goes wrong when the body is injured—what do you do?” Hernandez puts her problem-solving skills to the test with each patient, carrying a laptop around the gym to document the exercises they complete, pain levels and treatment goals. She spends about 45 minutes for initial evaluations with new patients, looking at their medical history and providing objective testing and mobility measurements to help form a treatment plan. She says goodbye to her first patient, who she says has come along way for being four months post-op. She hopes to give him the all-clear to head back to his physically demanding job soon, once he can perform all exercises with no pain. “He is progressing nicely, but it took time to get there,” says Hernandez. “I respect the healing of tissue and stay within the ranges that the patient and their doctor is comfortable with. As the pain subsides, we do more complex exercises. After ACL surgery, it usually takes six to nine months to return to sports and four to six months to return to work, and I’ll see patients one or two times a week during that time.” Frequently, she sends patients home with exercises to do on their own, as well. As she preps for her next appointment, she says how important it is for patients to be committed to putting in the hard work necessary to recover. “Some of the most basic things we teach them can make the biggest differences in their lives,” said Hernandez. “But I can’t go home with them and tell them what to do—they have to be willing to put in the time and dedication to get better. I try to educate them as best as I can on why they are having pain and what they can do on their own to get back to feeling as normal as possible. In our clinic, evidence-based practice is very important and helps us provide high-quality patient care with quicker results. I include the patient every step of the way and make sure they understand why the treatment plan is so important—they have to be a ready and willing participant or it just won’t work.” By 10 a.m. I’m ready and willing to rest on a stool and watch as Hernandez works up a sweat showing her third patient how to do squats without putting pressure on their lower back. She’s constantly on her feet, crouching, bending, repositioning patients’ limbs and laughing when one stability pose reminds her of “The Karate Kid.” It’s hard not to have a good time with Hernandez. “There’s two rules in PT: no falling and no passing out,” laughs Hernandez, who stays active in her spare time and tries to set a good example for patients. “We don’t want to overdo it, but we also want to make sure patients stay challenged and keep progressing.” One of her patients tells me Hernandez is the perfect mix of fun and down-to-business. “I like to joke with her and give her a hard time, but I need someone to give it to me straight. She’s honest with me, which I like, and she doesn’t let me cheat.” Before heading back to Galveston, I see Hernandez work with a patient with degenerative arthritis. In the afternoon, her schedule is full of teenagers undergoing post-op rehab for sports injuries. She tries to get students through the most intensive part of rehab during the summer months, so they won’t miss much class once school starts back up. Hernandez reflects on her own experience as a high school student with a sports injury, smiles, and gets ready to bring mobility, strength and hope to another thankful patient. Anti-Gravity Treadmill Anti-Gravity Treadmill TV Commercial × Anti-Gravity Treadmill TV Commercial Techniques. Technology. Team.Our orthopedic rehabilitation team seeks the latest treatment techniques and state-of-the-art technology to help patients regain function and quality of life. The anti-gravity treadmill is one example. This leading technology is used to help patients recover more quickly from lower extremity (hip, knee, ankle or foot) injuries. By lessening or eliminating the effects of gravity on the injured site, patients are able to regain mobility, and develop strength and fitness, all the while minimizing weight-bearing stress on the injury. Our patients benefit from advanced treatment options for: rehabilitation after total joint replacement, injury or surgery of a lower extremity; injury prevention and conditioning during sport-specific rehab; gait training and strengthening for neurological rehab patients; and strengthening and conditioning for older patients in a fall-safe environment. With innovative treatment options, every patient can expect a customized rehabilitation plan designed to meet their individual needs and recovery goals. Discover how our rehab team can work wonders for you. Contact Rehabilitation Services to book your appointment today.Call (409) 772-8834.