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Using new space age-like technology, Alvarado Hospital’s otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) Dr. Michael O’Leary is helping to get patients back on their feet by using a gravity-defying treadmill, in which patients “moon walk.”

Called the G-Trainer, this treadmill was originally developed at NASA to help astronauts maintain fitness during prolonged space flight. Now this technology is being used to help individuals rehabilitate from balance problems, strokes and other neurological conditions, as well as injuries safely and quickly.

For patients with balance problems or those with knee or joint injuries, this specialized device allows the patient to wear inflatable trousers attached to the treadmill. Once inflated, the balance patients can walk on the treadmill without falling over. For those with injuries, the inflatable trousers reduce the patients’ weight to alleviate pressure on the knees and joints during physical rehabilitation. Ideal patients are those who are rehabilitating from surgery, an injury or have chronic balance issues.

The treadmill measure the patient’s weight and adjusts the level of gravity needed to reduce the weight load. Once zipped into the machine, patients have full range of motion of their legs and their upper body is unrestricted. “This treadmill is a great device in helping patients recover from surgery or injury by rebuilding their muscle strength in a supervised and pain-free environment,” said Dr. O’Leary. “It allows those with balance issues to readjust to standing and walking as well.”