WATCH: AlterG anti-gravity treadmill means training like NASA astronauts at Herts MS Therapy Centre in Letchworth

Comet journalist JP Asher tries out the anti-gravity treadmill at the Herts MS Therapy Centre in Let

Comet journalist JP Asher tries out the anti-gravity treadmill at the Herts MS Therapy Centre in Letchworth. - Credit: Archant

Anti-gravity treadmills aren’t just for astronauts anymore – they’ve been adopted by professional athletes too, and now one of the machines is benefitting patients at a Letchworth therapy centre.

The Herts MS Therapy Centre, a charity that helps people with long-term, age-related and neurological conditions, now has an AlterG treadmill, which uses air pressure to lighten the load of a person’s body weight by as much as 80 per cent.

Across the whole UK there are only 250 of the expensive machines, which were originally developed for NASA, but are now widely used for training and rehabilitation. The NHS has 11 of them.

One of the first to try out the centre’s new treadmill was Hitchin woman Linda Monk, who has weakness in her right leg because of mild progressive MS and foot drop.

She said: “It’s a totally different experience and certainly a different feeling. I’ve been coming here for eight years and I usually do 10 minutes on a ordinary treadmill – any more and my legs feel tired the next day.

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“With the anti-gravity treadmill taking off 50 per cent of the weight I was able to go 27 minutes – almost three times as long as usual, and no problem at all.

“A gentleman came after me who had had a severe stroke and could hardly walk. You could see a definite improvement – his legs were moving in a walking motion, and he was doing it on his own.

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“I’d think it would give a great benefit to people like him who are more incapacitated than me.

“I think also, for people who can’t walk very well, the feeling of putting one foot in front of the other would give them a lot of confidence.”

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