Andrea Murphy: Anti-gravity treadmill helps woman learn to walk again

STUART, Fla. - The walk from the car to the office at Oceanside Physical Therapy, Inc. is a long one for Andrea Murphy.  The acupuncturist is used to giving treatment to others in pain.  Now she sees her friend, coworker and physical therapist, Bryan Graham as his patient.

"I went and taught my Zumba class as I do three times a week.  And I got through the class and I got home, and it just, I felt nothing," she said.

Her legs were numb, tingling and painful.  She went for an MRI and discovered something she had never expected.  She had a tumor in her spinal cord called melanocytoma.  Murphy was the 23rd patient known to be diagnosed with the rare tumor in and around her spinal cord.

She underwent two surgeries a month ago.

"In the beginning, it didn't feel like my foot.  It felt like I was just stepping on a rock.  It felt ten pounds.  It was excruciating pain," she said.

Andrea says she is angry and determined.  Graham says it's helping her recovery.

"She's very driven, she's got a little fire, she's not very happy about this," he said.

Part of Murphy's treatment is to walk on the Alter G.  It is an anti-gravity treadmill with NASA-inspired technology. 

"I can walk and I can feel it and I don't have any pain," she said.

Walking like she is on the moon, Murphy is zipped into the machine.  Graham controls the gravity and a treadmill moves below her, as she steps forward.  Graham is able to monitor Murphy and show her live video of her feet moving, so she can make adjustments in her stride. 

With a week of sessions under her belt, Murphy is walking on fifty percent of her body weight for twenty minutes at a time, without pain. 

Murphy says if she had ignored the tingling and pain in her legs, doctors say she would have been paralyzed in a year.

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