UC Heart Patients Use NASA Treadmill

Aug 15, 2016

When Marilyn Cotter's doctor ordered a stress test after a bout of chest tightness the Delhi Township grandmother had a space-age option, the AlterG treadmill.

To use it patients put on neoprene shorts and are zipped into a pressurized airtight enclosure, reducing their body weight by as much as 80 percent. This was perfect for Cotter, who has foot problems. "Now, in my younger years, I did use a regular treadmill; it's been a long time since I've done it, but that was amazing."

AlterG is commonly used by sports teams and at fitness clubs for physical therapy. Cotter is among 50 patients expected to take part in a controlled study at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. UC Health says this is the first time the device has been used for cardiac patients.

Cardiologists Myron Gerson and Patrick Daly are leading the study. Daly called the company when he heard about AlterG and asked to try it. "This is a device that I think is transformational in cardiac stress testing because it allows us to take probably about half the patients through our door that are unable to exercise. We are able to take a large majority of them and get them to target heart rate."

Clinical Nurse Manager Laura Catcott says the feedback has been incredible. "It's really fun to watch patients come in that haven't been able to walk on a treadmill in years be able to get on and they just feel like they're just lifted on a cloud."

The technology for AlterG was developed by NASA. A similar device was created for astronauts on the International Space Station as a way to exercise in a weightless environment.