Consider the cost of an Alter-G for a second at $30-70 grand more or less depending on the model purchased. That is a BIG investment and might not be a reality for all practitioners practices or the residential user. In fact the residential market and competitive athletes are almost totally priced out. The main focus of the company is on marketing to the commercial clinics.
With any piece of new equipment I also try to help the consumer understand that if there is an opportunity to get your feet wet with a less costly option then it might be worth considering if eventually the goal or possibility is spending a whole lot more on more robust equipment. One example that comes to mind is purchasing a lower costs lower power therapeutic laser and assessing results and learning how to market it and achieve ROI then upgrading to something more powerful and expensive later on.
Alter-G spends a huge amount of money on their marketing making it appear that they are the only option out there to achieve the following benefits:
“We are reinventing rehabilitation by advancing recovery from injury, surgery or disability and enhancing performance as well as reducing the frequency of injury in athletics and sports. ” Quote taken from their main company website.
This is not the case there are also underwater treadmills and also the LightSpeed Bodyweight harness system. The portable non motorized treadmills are sufficient for most groups of clients and users with exception of the athlete who wants to push their performance limits and could benefit from having a motorized treadmill. However the bulk of benefits associated with underwater treadmills motorized or not has to do with controlling weight reduction based on water level and also the resistance of moving in water.
If underwater training is not possible than the LightSpeed Bodyweight harness system I have found to provide the same benefit criteria as the Alter-G but at a fraction of the price for around $2700.
LightSpeed bodyweight harness system vs. Alter-G
I strongly recommend home users and practitioners either go with a non motorized underwater treadmill or a Lightspeed and gain that direct first hand experience of reducing body weight to achieve new training or rehabilitation results. The costs for these types of equipment is a drop in the bucket compared to an Alter-G.
Why then would someone want to upgrade to an Alter-G?
Let’s focus now mainly on the Lightspeed and using that equipment first. The reality of the situation is that a very small percentage of home users and practitioners upgrade when taking this recommended track because they see that reducing a person’s body weight up to 60lbs is enough reduction to help with 90% of rehabilitative conditions. Also reducing that much weight is enough for doing “overspeed training” as Alter-G likes to talk about and allows runners and athletes and home users just seeking health benefits to be able to exercise even with many common injuries or weaknesses in structurization.
Sure can Alter G help with a wider variety of situations and conditions a user might have but it’s a very small percentage of users. The percentage could be viewed as larger if the main focus will be focusing on helping rehabilitate individuals who are in the first couple weeks post operation. …but this also depends exactly on what the operation and condition treated was. Alter G for sure can help those people that need 80+ percentage of their body weight reduced due to extreme recent injury or surgery. But Alter G’s unique benefit window is just a couple weeks earlier than another system that can reduce less weight a few weeks out. We almost have to look at previous patients and clients (and what percentage of them could or should have been treated earlier than they were) and do an analysis as well as consider marketing strategy to really figure out if purchasing big expensive equipment like this is going to be worth it.
So who should purchase an Alter-G?
If you are a high level competitive athlete and have a major injury that you need to be able to get on a treadmill right after (and I mean immediately that first week and second) and you need 80+ percentage weight reduction to make this possible, then that would be a situation. The goal for an athlete that competitive is that they are on their own timetable and have a deadline to recover. If you don’t have a deadline to recover ASAP then you can weight a couple weeks rehabilitating in other ways and then use something like a Lightspeed to take you the rest of the way to accelerated recovery.
Many of the most common injuries however (90%) are not so extreme as to require that much weight reduction to start some movement and training on a treadmill. Also many athletes are not competitive to the degree that their career has a strict timetable to return to the sport where 1-3 weeks can can make all the difference.
If you are a home user/athlete just looking to get exercise, be healthier, run if normally it isn’t possible from an old injury, lose weight because your current weight makes running or walking to much strain on the body, etc. then again the vast majority of people in these situations do not require the majority of their body weight to be reduced. Most people simply need 30-40 and at most 60lbs to obtain the health goals they are after. An Alter G might be for you if you are majorly disabled or have a severe enough injury that makes exercise impossible unless the majority of weight is reduced. But then again…sometimes you don’t know which situation you fall within so is it wise to purchase an expensive Alter G first?
A LightSpeed has a return trial period. If it’s not enough it’s not enough and can be returned. But also realize that you could possibly find a clinic that has an Alter G not far from you and rehabilitate yourself enough to the point where early on you could then switch to using a LightSpeed at home. Keep in mind though as well that if you have a pool people who are in that minority who have a need to reduce their weight significantly can just get an affordable non motorized underwater treadmill. I know many people that take that track and recover enough with that then proceed to using a Lightspeed for above ground exercise. Consider that track has a total cost of $3500-4300 for have two different pieces of equipment. Still a drop in the bucket compared to owning an Alter G, and of course there costs with repair of that equipment in the long term.
For the practitioner and their clinic
If you know exactly the type of patient/client profile you want to help and it falls within that minority of individuals that require majority weight reduction or no exercise movement is possible…then yes an Alter G could be a good option. This kind of practice is focused more so on helping that minority of patients/clients so it makes sense from an ROI perspective and they might even be targeting this profile of client in their marketing efforts.
But I can tell you right now that that minority percentage of people that would need an AlterG without compromise goes down if they just rehabilitate and wait a couple weeks after surgery or injury. Also from a business perspective 90% of the conditions that are commonly seen and worked with at clinics can be greatly helped and only require reductions of 10-60lbs. Sure an Alter G in some exceptional cases might let you get to aid a person a week or two earlier. But remember the other side to this coin is that there are a lot of cases where reducing body weight load too much, 70+% can change a person’s gait too much and lead to a unnatural rehabilitative effect that veers away from being totally functional. That is something you will never of course hear Alter G mention.
Of course you can reduce weight reduction with an Alter G all the way to minimal weight reduction of 20% but the point is that lower level reductions like under 70% body weight means that the AlterG is not needed and more affordable methods can be used like a Lightspeed.
So the overall conclusion is that the Alter G if you have the money and feel you will get good ROI with a minority of cases makes sense to purchase. But if you don’t have any experience with this methodology or approach to rehabilitation and training consider getting your feet wet with a LightSpeed bodyweight harness reduction system that fits over any current treadmills you might already own. If this approach to training and healing is a big success then sure maybe it makes sense to include the minority and expand your reach of service.
If you are a home user consider a Lightspeed for the same reasons. Take a trial with the equipment as an affordable track and if you need more weight reduction then return it and go for the big purchase of an Alter G, and if you get fantastic results with a LightSpeed then just keep it and continue using it!