The Alter G Treadmill – like walking on the moon
What is all this fuss about? To start with there are only 250 in the UK at the moment. All the top football clubs have them and Mo Farah runs 50 miles a week on one - he also runs 100 miles a week on the roads, but that’s a different story! This is not the latest bit of kit just for elite sports people, it is an exceptional rehabilitation tool for people of all ages, and for a whole variety of conditions. This is why we, at Stort Physio have worked hard to have this facility for our patients and the people in Bishop’s Stortford.
Do you think gyms are not for you? Do you imagine being able to walk, or even run without fear or pain, but can’t see how you could ever do this again? The Alter G is a definite possibility. We can now offer this facility either as an addition to a treatment programme, or as a stand alone session. Either way, anyone who wants to use the treadmill will have the support and knowledge of our physiotherapy team who are specialists in Physical Medicine.
What is involved?
You will need to get into some really attractive neoprene shorts and then be zipped into the machine, which will then calibrate the amount of air needed to lift you. This means that we are able to take up to 80% of your body weight off. You cannot fall in this machine and you can even take both feet off and you will be supported – but that’s not the idea!
What it allows you to do is to move normally by taking away the compression forces through the feet, knees, hips and back that may be the cause of pain and disability. Simply standing and exercising; walking or running, means that these normal patterns of movement can be re-imprinted on your nervous system allowing muscles, joints and nerves to move in the way they should - building your confidence as well as strength.
There has been a great deal of research that shows a reduction in falls by over 90% in patients with Parkinson’s Disease by doing exactly this. There is also significant evidence that the achievable effects are more effective than the medication.
Once we started looking at the possibilities of this treadmill, we realised the potential value for a great number of patients with a wide range of conditions. Patients with hip or knee replacements can get moving and recover far sooner by simply reducing the loading through the joints concerned. Couple this with being able to strengthen weak muscles, re-educate movement patterns and correct muscle imbalances and we have a unique addition to our existing diagnostic and treatment skills.
What exactly are we talking about here?
Orthopaedic rehabilitation - After injury, fractures, or joint replacement surgery.
Musculo-skeletal Medicine - including Sports injuries and sport training
This is the most obvious area where patients with soft tissue and joint problems can be mobilised far earlier than usual because of the reduced weight loading. It is also being used as a training programme for those who need to achieve higher running mileages without the increased risk of injury.
Therapeutic Exercise - The AlterG is not just a treadmill. With reduced loading through the joints, exercises can be done in standing to gain the confidence, strength and endurance needed ultimately to walk and even run.
Neurological conditions - These include Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis.
Safely exercising and walking in the AlterG maintains, and improves the gait and can even improve the patient’s cognitive ability.
Falls prevention & elderly rehabilitation - You cannot fall in the AlterG, so in this secure, and often pain free environment they are able to improve their walking, strength and endurance. As the treadmill can go forwards or backwards, with or without and incline, then patients can work on walking up or down hill and even stepping backwards – without the fear of falling.
Cardiac rehabilitation – there has been increasing research on using the Alter G as a key part of rehabilitation following heart attacks.
Weight control programmes - 75% of bodyweight is the most effective for cardio-vascular work and weight reduction. Patients can be progressed towards this goal, but the treadmill also serves to show patients what it would be like to move and exercise at their ideal weight. This gives them the additional impetus to lose the excess weight.
To be able to put patients in a completely safe environment where they can re-learn how to move without pain is a significant benefit for those patients who are currently only managed with increasing medication.
What is the cost for using the Alter G?
£15 per supervised half hour session for patients under treatment at Stort Physio
£20 for people not under treatment (half hour session)
£70 Pre-booking of 4 sessions for a month
At Stort Physio we offer Free Assessments. Book your appointment now and come and try the Alter G for yourself. 01279 654020 www.stortphysio.com
Physical Medicine is what we do and Physiotherapists are who we are.
Physical Medicine involves the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that can affect any part of the skeleton – the joints, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments etc. In short, our aim is to find out what is stopping you from moving freely and without pain and then put together a Treatment Plan that is specific to your needs, which includes a full rehabilitation programme and how not to do it again. These problems are usually called Musculo-Skeletal conditions (MSK) and include back and neck pain; sports injuries; sprains and strains etc etc and are commonly treated by physiotherapists with exercises and massage. We don’t.
What makes the difference is the diagnosis. We can do “simple” injuries and all the way up to complex movement pathologies, neural dynamics and chronic pain. We also know when not to treat if the condition is not within our scope of practise.
Our treatment “toolbox” is extensive. We can, and do, manipulate necks and backs, but we also have a whole range of other manual therapy techniques running alongside acupuncture, Interferential Therapy and tailor-made rehabilitation programmes. And now we have the Alter G Anti-gravity treadmill! What moves us into Physical Medicine is that we also treat asthma, IBS, headaches and migraines, eczema, hay-fever, dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), wounds and some circulatory disorders. Yes, we are Physiotherapists – but not as you know it! – and we believe that the service we provide is second to none.
We offer Consultant and Clinical Specialist level Chartered Physiotherapy working as a team for our patients.
The key to our success is being able to provide the skills, knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose conditions in the first place and then provide the right treatment to get our patients better in the shortest possible time.
Between our current four specialist physiotherapists we have over 60 years of clinical experience
An 18 year old young man came to see me having suffered from asthma virtually all his life. Summer time wasn’t too bad at all, but come the winter and he would have to go to hospital every year with severe asthma attacks. His peak flow readings never got above 310.
I started treatment with him in October last year using Interferential Therapy (IFT) and now his peak flow is averaging 425 and colds that would previously turn into chest infections and set off asthma attacks, are now a thing of the past. We will monitor him over the coming months and through to spring 2019, but all is looking good for complete resolution of his asthma.
IFT is not a new form of electrotherapy and it is not some “snake oil” therapy. It first came into the UK in 1949. I have been working with it since the late 1970s and I am working on my second textbook on the technique. I have over 300 research papers. Two undergraduate research projects we carried out with Physiotherapy students from the University of Hertfordshire showed that it is a better broncho-dilator than Ventolin. We have successfully treated many children with asthma and one of them has now gone over 30 years without an asthma attack.
Most of the research on IFT, both animal and clinical trials was done in the 1980s, so it is too long ago to be referenced by current university students. What I have learnt since then is that IFT also has a positive effect on the immune system, which has to be part of its effect in asthma cases.
Why isn’t it offered to all asthma patients? This is a simple question to answer: it is not a drug and has virtually no side effects. So doctors and the drug companies don’t believe it can do anything - if they know of it at all. IFT has fallen out of fashion in the physiotherapy profession, so it is barely taught in the universities anymore meaning that few physiotherapists these days know what it can do, let alone have a machine.
When I was a student in the early 1970s, we treated many asthma children by re-educating their breathing patterns. The combination of re-educating the breathing patterns with IFT should prove to be an answer.
We want to treat more people with asthma to prove that the treatment protocol I have developed is worth new research trials to show exactly how it works. If you are interested in taking part in our pilot study designed to build a large number of cases studies, then book your free assessment and come and learn more about how we may be able to help.
How Much Does Your Healthcare Cost?
40 years ago there was a change in the law in the UK that allowed patients to see a physiotherapist without seeing a doctor or a dentist first. It was legally acknowledged that physiotherapists had all the professional knowledge and skills to take full responsibility for the treatment of their patients.
So why is it that you still need a medical referral to see a physiotherapist if you have private health insurance?
Could it be to save money for the insurance company?
A thought for you – a patient came to see me after being told by his health insurance company that he had to see a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon before having treatment with us. This he did, and the fee for the 15 minute consultation was £250. The Consultant also ordered an MRI, X rays and blood tests etc. The total cost was nearly £3000. At the end of all these tests, the Consultant agreed that Physiotherapy was the treatment of choice. All the tests did were to confirm what we already knew from our clinical examination. It took just one session at £85 to completely resolve the problem, and as he had £100 excess on his policy the insurance company only had to pay for the consultant and all the tests and not for the treatment that got the patient better! That’s a strange way of saving money!
Could it be for safety?
In 2005, the term “Physiotherapist” became a legally protected title meaning that only people who had completed at least a BSc (Hons) degree in Physiotherapy could use the title and practise the profession of Physiotherapy. As the fourth largest medical profession in the UK we have all the required competencies, professional standards, ethical standards and professional indemnity insurance to safely treat patients. In short, we only treat patients with conditions that fall within our Scope of Practise. There are very few “side effects” or dangers with Physiotherapy treatments and it is worth noting that the NHS paid £1.7 billion on clinical negligence claims in 2016 -17.
Most Health Insurance claims for Physiotherapy treatment are for musculo-skeletal problems (MSK) such as back pain, sports injuries, post orthopaedic surgery rehabilitation, arthritis and very many more conditions.
Those of us who have spent many years specialising in these conditions also build on years of experience with a great deal of post graduate courses etc to ensure that we keep up to date with all the research and treatment developments going on around the world.
Surely patients with these conditions should be seen by a specialist MSK physiotherapist first and only need to see a doctor if the clinical examination shows a possibility of serious pathology or disease. As less than 1% of people with back pain, for example, have a potentially serious condition, this would seem to be the most cost effective and the most clinically efficient service.
This failure to acknowledge the value of specialist physiotherapists is not limited to the Health Insurance companies. The same rules apply in the NHS, although there is a growing number of Trusts where patients can access NHS physiotherapy services directly.
Having spent 5 hours in A and E recently, I could have run a clinic and spared the doctors and nurses all the stress of seeing patients with conditions that they really have very little skills or knowledge to treat. Patients with sprains and strains, back and neck problems, sports injuries etc need to have a full clinical examination and the right treatment – not anti-inflammatory medication with pain killers and sent on their way. I could have seen and treated about half of the people waiting that day within a couple of hours and the people who really needed the doctors would have been seen a great deal quicker.
It is such a simple answer to a complex problem. People need to be able to access the health professionals who will give them the best advice, diagnosis and treatment. If I broke my leg, I would not expect to be seen by a gynaecologist. Equally, I would not treat a patient with kidney disease. So why is it still the case that patients with MSK problems are seen by doctors? This has to be why MSK problems cost the country more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together!
90% of our patient don’t have any Health Insurance and our average number of treatments per condition is still only 3 after 38 years in practice.
GP or Physio?
With the problems in the NHS, we are being told not to see a GP unless it is really necessary, but what about seeing a physio instead?
Physiotherapy is the 4th largest medical profession in the UK after doctors, nurses and midwives and is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Physios who specialise in musculo-skeletal conditions (MSK) (back, neck, sports injuries, orthopaedic rehab etc etc) have a common ground with osteopaths and chiropractors, but this is only one of the specialities within the Physiotherapy profession.
What isn’t generally understood is the difference between physiotherapists. The basic degree – a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy covers MSK, Neurology, Orthopaedics, Respiratory, Intensive Care, Paediatrics, Mental Health, Women’s Health, Care of the Elderly, Palliative care and even Occupational Health. So, we bring a wide range of medical skills to the party! Having gained the degree, then we begin a life-long series of post graduate courses to develop our chosen specialist and expert skills - even working towards higher degrees and even professorships and research.
At Stort Physio, MSK is our major speciality and all four of us are trained in Orthopaedic Medicine that enables us to accurately diagnose and treat MSK conditions. Yes, we manipulate backs, necks and other joints to increase range of movement, but if we can’t because of other medical conditions or simply that the patient doesn’t like the idea, then we have many more “treatment tools in our box” that may take longer, but are ultimately as effective.
We assess, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate a wide variety of conditions in people of all ages. You won’t just get a sheet of exercises, or a massage, and we won’t save anyone’s life. Our aim is to improve the quality of our patients lives by making the right diagnosis and giving them the most effective treatments.
Our treatments include a range of manual therapies, acupuncture, electrotherapies, tailor-made rehabilitation programmes, digital scanning for orthotics and treatment for headaches and migraines in line with the Watson Headache Institute.
What this means is that the Stort Physio clinical team has built on the foundation of Physiotherapy skills and knowledge to develop into Physical Medicine. This is a branch of medicine that enhances and restores functional ability and quality of life to people with physical impairments or disabilities. The aim is to restore the best possible function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, or nervous system.
What this means is that we can diagnose and treat far more conditions than you would expect, but if it is not for us then we will tell you. That’s why we offer Free Assessments!
Very simply – doctors treat diseases and physiotherapists treat dysfunctions