BOSTON (CBS) – A local hospital is using a new high-tech treadmill to help patients get back on their feet, including a father of three from Boston who suddenly lost the ability to walk.
Three years ago, Chukwuma Anyanwuu began to have problems with his balance. “I was mowing the lawn I tripped and I fell,” Chukwuma says. “It happened a second time then I knew something was wrong.”
The active 42-year-old father of three was diagnosed with Poems Syndrome, a rare blood disorder which causes progressive nerve damage. He lost the ability to walk, to stand, and could barely speak.
“I was paralyzed from my neck down,” Chukwuma explains.
But after a stem cell transplant in 2016, Chukwuma is getting his life back, in large part due to his hard work at Spaulding Rehab and a high tech anti-gravity treadmill called the Alter G.
Unlike a traditional treadmill which requires the user to support his full body weight, the Alter G treadmill forms a seal around a patient’s waist, pressurizing a chamber containing both the treadmill and the patient’s legs.
“You can dial this down as low as 30% of your body weight and you feel like you’re an astronaut kind of bouncing on top of the treadmill but then you can also dial it up to near close to full body weight,” says Dr. Adam Tenforde, a sports medicine physician at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
The Alter G can be used for people with a variety of injuries from spinal cord injuries to sprains and broken bones.
“A very high profile Boston Celtics player Gordon Hayward who recovered from a very traumatic bone injury to his lower extremity is actually is using the Alter G now for his rehabilitation phase,” says Dr. Tenforde.
Chukwuma started at 50-percent of his weight and can now run supporting 100-percent of his weight, something his kids never thought they’d see again.
“When they go to school they tell their teachers, ‘My Daddy’s now walking. My Daddy’s now driving. My Daddy doesn’t go with his cane anymore,'” says Chukwuma smiling. But Chukwuma has never doubted he will make a full and complete recovery.
“I’ve always believed that I would get back to my normal self and I am working towards it every day, every day,” he says.
The Alter G treadmill can be used for people of all ages. The machine at Spaulding Cambridge is one of the only ones in the Boston area. If you’d like more information, you can go to spauldingrehab.org.