Sports trainers defy gravity to get patients back on their feet faster

Houston Dynamo forward Calen Carr takes part in revolutionary training program

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - A lower extremity injury affecting the hips, knees, ankle or foot can sideline anyone, even if you are not a professional athlete.

This revolutionary training program is helping people, like Houston Dynamo forward Calen Carr, get people back on the job faster than ever before.

Carr opened the 2012 MLS Championship Final with a bang, scoring the team's first and only goal.

"Unfortunately, second half came (and) I went to go plant and just as I planted (my feet), a defender hit my leg just above the knee," Carr said.

He was sidelined by a painful ACL tear -- the second in his career. Carr's goal would be the only one in the Finals. The LA Galaxy won 3-1.

Since his surgery, Carr has been rehabbing at Houston Methodist Hospital. Much of that time has been spent underwater.

"It's been great for me to be able to use all of the different facilities here that really don't exist all over Houston and really help me speed up my recovery and get me back to the field quicker than expected," Carr explained.

"With some injuries, people have to wait up to three months before they can start running and the treadmill," Houston Methodist sports specialist Nathan Hironymous said. "We can get them up to six weeks earlier."

Hironymous said the underwater treadmill can reduce the patient's body weight by up to 90 percent, which takes the pressure off the joints.

"They're able to run without the pain, so they're able to keep up their mileage," said Hironymous.

Professional athletes are not the only ones taking advantage of this training program.

"When I heard of it, it kind of blew my mind," said Houston Fire Department Senior Captain Pete Chapa.

Chapa stepped on the Alter G Antigravity treadmill weeks after his ACL surgery.

Developed by NASA and approved by the FDA, the treadmill uses air pressure technology so Capt. Chapa can build strength while on light duty.

"I'm itching and biting to get back to the (fire) station, to get back to what I love to do," Chapa said.

Carr said his recovery time from this ACL surgery was shaved down by about two months.

He hopes to be back on the soccer field next weekend.

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