NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A piece of exercise equipment that seems like science fiction is being used to help people with all sorts of injuries get moving again.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to run on the moon, an anti-gravity treadmill can give you an idea of what it’s like.

Anti-gravity treadmills haven’t changed the laws of physics, but rather make the user feel lighter while exercising on a treadmill.

That’s really important for injured athletes and orthopedic surgery patients to get moving again, Gomez reported.

Anti-gravity treadmills were first developed for NASA to help astronauts ease back into earth’s gravity.

Following weeks and months of weightlessness in space, astronauts experienced muscle atrophy and thinning bones.

Out of that need, the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill was born. Now, the device is used for all sorts of patients.

“I was walking in the field over the summer and stepped in a hole and just like that, I tore the meniscus in my right knee,” Andrew Seguin said.

After surgery, Seguin faced months of rehab. But experts said pain can limit a patient’s ability to do rehab.

The AlterG treadmill allows patients to walk or run at less than full gravity, from just 20 percent of body weight all the way up to full weight.

“This allows us to ramp up slowly over time by increasing the amount of body weight that the person is putting on their lower extremity injury or surgical site and allow them to progress to normal weight bearing,” Dr. Farah Hameed of Columbia Doctors said.

The user must wear Neoprene shorts with a kind of skirt attached that gets zipped into the air chamber surrounding the treadmill.

That forms an airtight seal and as the chamber inflates, which lifts the patient and reduces the amount of body weight their legs have to carry while on the treadmill.

Another feature of the treadmill is cameras that allow the patient to see their gait because that often becomes abnormal when compensating after an injury.

“It feels pretty cool. It’s what I imagine maybe an astronaut feels like,” Seguin said.

One more important thing you can do with anti-gravity is maintain your cardiovascular fitness even though you’re injured, Gomez reported.

A bum knee or hip often starts a downhill spiral of inactivity and weight gain. The AlterG lets you keep exercising without aggravating your injury.

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