In a typical year, Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital supports over 1,000 patients through almost 5,000 physiotherapy appointments. More than half have lower limb injuries and it is these patients that now benefit so much from our new Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

This revolutionary piece of equipment not only speeds up rehabilitation from injury, but also provides significant mental and physical benefits to patients – all funded through donations from grateful patients and the local community.

The Anti-Gravity Treadmill was originally created for astronauts by NASA in the 1990s. Years later, the technology was adapted from adding weight to astronauts in space so they could remain more active, to removing weight for rehab patients recovering from leg and foot injuries so they could exercise without exacerbating an injury, helping to restore mobility more quickly.

Depending on the individual patient’s needs, a physiotherapist can configure the treadmill to support up to 80 per cent of their body weight. A screen and series of cameras also allows the patient to see their legs, meaning they can self-adjust their gait – or even record their session – to help the physio team review progress and inform future exercises.  

During treatment, patients gain the freedom of motion to strengthen their limbs and joints with decreased pain, huge psychological benefits and, of course, the ability to exercise much sooner than if weight-bearing restrictions were imposed.

Feedback from patients has been universally positive: from a 14-year-old patient with a tibial sarcoma who was able to run on the treadmill for the first time since he was seven, to the 49-year-old patient with multiple lower leg fractures who struggled to walk with crutches due to pain and anxiety, and now only uses crutches outdoors after just three sessions on the treadmill.

Janes Story

Jane Denby is in her 60s and lives in Oxford. In 2019, she suffered a serious fracture of her lower leg after an accident in her garden, which had a devastating impact on her life and her mobility.

She was offered the chance to use the Anti-Gravity Treadmill when it was trialled at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The effects were astounding. She went from only being able to walk ten steps using crutches, to walking on the treadmill for 16 minutes. 

Prior to her accident, Jane had always been a very fit and active person. She told us that aside from the obvious pain, the psychological impact and forced change in lifestyle was very difficult to deal with. ‘You never think you will walk again and then there you are walking! It’s an amazing feeling – you feel completely weightless.’ 

Jane was delighted when the Anti-Gravity Treadmill was purchased and feels it’s an incredible asset for Oxfordshire patients going through rehabilitation like she did after her accident.  

The impact of the Anti-Gravity Treadmill has quite literally changed lives and outcomes for patients across Oxfordshire and was funded through a legacy left by a generous local supporter.

You make the difference through your donations, your regular monthly gifts, your sponsored events, and your gifts in Wills – and we cannot thank you enough.