Unweighting people to assist in medical rehabilitation, physical therapy and athletic recovery is a very misunderstood concept. The reason is that there are so many products on the market that claim to be unweighting. Many of the overhead track systems are used so the user can engage in physical activity without falling but this is not unweighting. Other devices lift the user in an upward direction so they can walk on a treadmill at a lower weight. The majority of these devices have limited capabilities and are very expensive. Also, a number of devices just pull straight up and attach to a harness which affects the user’s natural motion, making gait analysis difficult. With all of these devices on the market it’s hard to know which one is right for you. This does cause confusion about the validity of unweighting all together. The fact is, the right unweighting system is the most valuable tool there is to rehabilitate people. Unweighting accelerates recovery time (skipping the limp phase) increases compliance, is safe for client and clinician, builds confidence, and most importantly is effective.
The Most Versatile Unweighting System on the Market Today!
Currently there are unweighing systems on the market that can do it all. Allowing unlimited movement while unweighted, side-by-side, forward and back, up, and down. Clients are unweighted to their ideal weight for their personal physical condition and abilities. This opens up unlimited treatment options to those who have a machine with these capabilities. Clinicians can focus 100% on the client and the client can focus 100% on proper execution of the instructions given. Having a client focused on what they can do, instead of what they can’t do, produces a much-improved result when compared to traditional treatment.
Safety is a key component of unweighting. When a client realizes that they can’t fall and this is coupled with being at a reduced weight, they gain considerable confidence. This allows the clinician to expand on their treatment and have the full cooperation of the client. When your clients experience success, they will tell everyone they know about their experience. When doctors and specialists see this, they will send more and more referrals.
Guiding correct form is critical in helping patients reclaim lower extremity function. Body weight support devices such as the Z-Axis enable therapists to work hands-on with patients and focus on the details of proper form without requiring the therapist and therapy aids to support the patient.
Unweighting machines with these capabilities are quite expensive, ranging from $160,000-$350,000. The majority of these machines are very complicated with high-tech electronics and mechanisms often providing minimal benefits. While these components are attractive, they are unnecessary, driving costs through the stratosphere. Also, the harnesses that come with these machines are exactly that: modified climbing harnesses. These harnesses become uncomfortable, especially as more weight is removed. In the following section, we would like to illustrate how to unweight properly and achieve total comfort at a very affordable price, allowing so many more people to have access to this amazing technology.
We would like to introduce you to the Z Axis Unweighting System. Z Axis has it all including a full range of motion and a specifically designed lifting suit, not a harness. We can make every client comfortable, no matter their size, weight, shape, or gender. We can remove up to 300 pounds in complete comfort.
These are the lifting suits that come with the Z Axis system. These suits are a body suit, not a harness. They conform to the body and use compression to lift evenly and comfortably.
The Z Axis system dramatically improves the interaction between the clinician and the client. This is because of the built-in safety features, as well as the benefits of unweighting. The clinician doesn’t have to be constantly on guard in case the client falls or hurts themselves because of too much excess weight on their joints. Being at the ideal weight helps prevent injury. They can focus more on the details of body and limb positioning during training. This also improves the emotional connection with the client. The clients have a huge boost in confidence and are much more cooperative, engaged, and thrilled to be able to perform the tasks required. This experience makes clients feel that they are receiving the best possible care, and they are excited to return.
Utilizing the Z Axis Unweighting System elevates the entire rehabilitation process. It gets clinicians excited again because they can do so much more when they have the Z Axis System. We also provide training videos for various conditions. These videos are all under 30 seconds. They provide a starting point for each condition that clinicians see every day and they also provide valuable tips and techniques for each condition. The Z Axis system is a game-changer in rehabilitation. It creates so much excitement inside and outside of the facility, from clinicians jockeying to have time on it, to existing and new clients calling and asking when they can try it.
You can read more about the Z Axis Unweighting System in the Sept/Oct 2020 Issue of Physical Therapy Products.
Written By: Montgomery “Monty” Merrill, MS, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT
The Benefits of our Z Axis Unweighting System are as much Related to Protecting the Body of the Individual as they are to Strengthening the Body.
In todays world, most clients already have some excess weight that has a negative effect on their recovery. The excess weight coupled with an injury or medical condition can severely effect recovery. This Z Axis Unweighting System removes all the negatives and allows the positives to be experienced, all the while removing any risk or fear of falling. The machine allows the therapist to remove enough weight to allow correct pain-free movement; weight is then added to progress the client back to their pain-free active life. For example, if a client is 40 lbs overweight, we can remove that 40 lbs of excess weight and then begin to remove more weight until the client can perform the full range of motion that they need for rehabilitation and recovery. Nothing short of amazing!
Patient Case Studies Demonstrating the Uses and Benefits of the Z Axis Unweighting System.
Paul is a 27-year-old male who, as a teenager, had extensive radiation over the right hip to treat Ewing’s osteosarcoma. He has, over the years, experienced compression and degeneration of the femoral head and proximal femur, resulting in a 10-inch leg length discrepancy. He required two crutches for ambulation, non-weight bearing on the right side. He was fitted for an adaptive HKAFO with accommodation for his leg length discrepancy. With the Z Axis unit therapists trained upright control in double and single leg weight-bearing, progressing towards functional gait. He trained on variable surfaces to progress to walking without any assistive device and eventually was able to play basketball.
Bob is an 85-year-old male with bilateral knee arthritis, spinal stenosis and general weakness. He has had several falls in the home and out of doors. He is unable to get off the floor when he falls. The clinic used the Z Axis Unit to train the patient to be able to sense loss of balance, particularly falling backward. The device was used to progressively train getting down to the floor and getting off the floor, breaking the progression down into small component parts, and then putting them together allowing him to get off the floor independently.
Mike is a 61-year-old male with severe right knee medial compartment arthritis. He has a 30-year history of L4-5 disc involvement with radicular symptoms into the right leg. His goal is to put off a knee hemiarthroplasty as long as possible but continue golfing and hiking with his children. He has significant right hip girdle and calf weakness, walking with varus thrust during the stance phase of gait. With the Z Axis unit therapists can work on double and single limb control, training varus thrust control during weight bearing activity. During unweighted functional activities, single leg stance, pivoting and twisting on the leg, therapists used manual facilitory techniques, adding variables of load, velocity and direction as he was able to control them. Because of the ability to maneuver the suit through its attachments to the apparatus therapists could pre-position the patient into posterior tilt, alleviating painful stressors to the spine. As his trunk control progressed, resistance was added to promote further core control with superimposed lower extremity activity.
Dennis, Z Axis Founder, uses the Z Axis Unweighting System for weight loss and fitness. Dennis once weighed around 437 pounds before he came up with the idea of inventing an unweighting system to help himself loss weight. He was having trouble with his mobility and doing everyday tasks because he was caring so much extra weight. Since developing the Z Axis Unweighting System, Dennis has lost 106 pounds by doing a weekly unweighting fitness routine that includes balance and floor exercises for weight loss. Besides the weight loss, Dennis has noticed his joints and feet don't hurt as much and has improved balance and stamina.
We have three different sized machines. The reason for this is that many clients don't require as much space to perform their task and this saves on square footage. These machines are also designed to link together for multiple units. This also allows for a facility to have more machines to meet the demand.