Maggie’s Story: AlterG Speeds Recovery for Star Athlete

Rather than let an injury sideline her, Maggie Hemmelgarn helped Minster High School win a state cross-country championship last fall thanks to her grit – and some support from Upper Valley Medical Center's sports medicine team.

Hemmelgarn is a long-time runner and member of both Minster’s state recognized track and cross-country teams.

After running on the school’s winning 4 x 8 relay team at the state track and field championships in June 2022, Hemmelgarn sought treatment for a stress fracture that began in April that same year, before post-season competition.

During the summer she did her best to heal the fractured foot - spending weeks on crutches - then decided to try the UVMC Center for Sports Medicine at Tipp City's Hyatt Center at the suggestion of her orthopedic doctor.

Before utilizing the AlterG treadmill at the Hyatt Center, she wore a walking boot for two weeks, then made regular trips to Tipp City for rehab.

"I came to Premier Health because of the AlterG. I hadn’t been running for three months and this was a way for me to start running," Hemmelgarn said.

How Anti-Gravity Helps Astronauts And Athletes

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill is rehab equipment that uses NASA Differential Air Pressure technology.

The equipment was created originally for astronauts at the International Space Station to allow them to exercise for hours each day to combat the loss of bone mass and muscle in microgravity. The unique unweighting capabilities of the AlterG reduce stress on joints and injured areas of the body, giving individuals the confidence and ability to run or walk sooner and longer and recover faster with less pain. 

Hemmelgarn, who faithfully made the trip from Minster to Tipp City to use the AlterG after school, thanked the staff for accommodating her schedule.

"They helped me a lot," she said of the physical therapy staff. "I was super impressed by the physical therapy work there, outside of the AlterG.”

She worked with physical therapist Brian Jans, PT, PDT, SCS, a board-certified sports medicine specialist who specializes in evaluating and treating runners and cyclists. In addition to treating injuries, Jans also performs running evaluations and bike fitting, using video analysis, to help individuals understand their running or biking mechanics to aid in injury recovery and prevention and improve performance. Hemmelgarn also worked with the center’s experienced physical therapist assistants, Jordan Richardson and David Brush, who helped to motivate and guide her through stretches and other exercises to help with running and balance.

She’s Back In the Game, Both Physically And Mentally

"It was such a blessing to help me not only to get better physically but also mentally," Hemmelgarn said.

Jans said he worked with Hemmelgarn on the use of AlterG as well as strengthening, balance, and proprioception, or the awareness of the position of one’s body. “She did so well we stopped formal therapy and she continued running in the AlterG on her own to progress the running protocol and get more time and distance with running,” Jans said.

Hemmelgarn hit the ground running in early September and participated in cross country in the fall. She was a member of the school’s state champion cross country team.

“None of this would have been possible without you and the Anti-Gravity,” she told the sports medicine team in a thank-you note.

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Our sports medicine team is ready to help you get back in the game. Call the location nearest you to learn more about sports medicine services in your area.