“It gave me freedom, that is what it did for me today, it made me free today,” said Multiple Sclerosis patient Bonnie Iglesias after running for the first time in years on Tuality Healthcare’s new Alter G® Anti-Gravity Treadmill®.
Iglesias has had MS for close to twenty years and is an advocate for medical research, fund raising, and is an inspiration to many with the disease. She attends weekly physical therapy sessions at Tuality Healthplace to help strengthen, stretch, and manage the symptoms of the disease. Since she started using the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill in April, she has experienced significant improvements to her physical and emotional wellbeing.
The Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill is designed to reduce weight on a patient’s body from gravity. The treadmill uses an air-filled bag system that surrounds and elevates the patient. The system can be adjusted according to the person’s weight and comfort levels. Patients with diseases that affect motor skills such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or other physical disabilities can experience the benefits of cardiovascular exercise with this technology. Iglesias being the first patient at Tuality to use the machine, was able to run for the first time in 20 years. When Iglesias runs on the treadmill, the reduction in gravity evens out her gate causing her legs to move correctly.
“She is walking correctly and her body is going through the correct motions,” Kim Lierman said who has been her physical therapist for 10 years. Running and exercising correctly has improved her brain’s ability to send nerve signals to the muscles in her legs. “She can now stand on her own, and hasn’t needed a walker since her first experience exercising on the treadmill,” Lierman said.
“It gave me freedom, that is what it did for me today, it made me free today,” Bonnie Iglesias
“Everything is better, I am doing great, and my quality of life has improved,” Iglesias said of her experience using the treadmill consistently since April.
Prior to Iglesias ‘s diagnosis 20 years ago, she was active, and ran 3 miles daily as an employee for Nike. After her diagnosis, she was limited physically and unable to run because of MS and its effects on her nervous system. When Iglesias ‘s Physical Therapist Kim Lierman asked her to be the first patient to test out the new treadmill she was excited, yet nervous.
“We are fortunate enough to have an Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill ;here. I knew immediately who I wanted to put on that for the very first time. So we put Bonnie on it today, and she ran” Lierman said.
While Iglesias was nervous to use the treadmill, her first run was a success. “I am running, this is amazing” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes. Iglesias started with a brief warm up then combined running and walking throughout her 20-minute session. Iglesias has increased her activity levels since using the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill. She recently spent 5 nights in the mountains of Colorado camping in a tent. She also visited New Mexico then California to visit family during a reunion.
“You would have never seen me do a trip like this before, it felt great,” Iglesias said. She also participates in the annual National MS Society Bike Ride with her brother. Both have participated together in the bike ride for 15 years to help raise money and awareness for MS research.
MS is a complex condition, but according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the disease involves an abnormal immune system response to a person’s nervous system. The immune system targets the Myelin, which is a fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers. When this substance is destroyed, nerve signals that run to and from the brain and spine are interrupted or distorted producing many symptoms such as physical disability being one. There is no cure for MS, but treatment is available for patients depending on what stage they are at with the disease.
Healthplace, Tuality’s physical, occupational and hand therapy facility, purchased the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill through a generous financial contribution from the Tuality Healthcare Foundation.