CLEARWATER, Fla. - Glenn Mitchell used to be a competitive athlete. Now, even tying athletic shoes is a challenge. Back surgery, Parkinson's disease and a hip replacement have made exercising dangerous. "I was really getting discouraged, even riding a bike. Compression is an issue, balance is an issue."
Any change of motion, and he could fall over. "I had dreams about running, just crazy stuff. I was talking with someone and said if I could only live on the moon, I'd be great. They mentioned they have an anti-gravity machine over at Morton Plant Hospital."
The AlterG takes NASA technology and puts it to use in a rehab setting. Once inside a zippered suit and on a treadmill, a compartment inflates, and air pressure literally floats the body weight off.
Dr. Michael Andriola, who heads Morton Plant Mease's Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Clinic says, "In neurological patients who have problems with weakness or difficulty with coordination, this allows them, by removing weight, to go through the motions in a normal fashion so they can redevelop the muscles that are weak and also get the benefit of cardiovascular exercise."
The doctor says the AlterG helps patients with a variety of medical issues from arthritis to joint problems. Athletes' use it while recovering from injuries.
For Glenn, though, it's about even more. It's about staying in the game. "When you are sick, hope is such a big thing. It's very intrinsic, like being alive again. It's like, I'm still undefeated. I'm still here."
For more information, call 727-461-8874 or 727-772-2216, or go to MPMHealth.com/AlterG .