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Elliptical trainer

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    Elliptical trainer

    We would like to buy an elliptical trainer. As a C6-7 complete, transferring is not a problem and he easily supports himself on a walker or parallel bars, but obviously there are trunk weaknesses. What would be your recommendations for features or brands?

    The mom,

    I'm also C6-7. I use an elliptical (natural runner) from

    Also, try a search on ellipticals. We've discussed previously. There are many options / versions as well as prices.


      Chris... haven't searched back yet, but how the crap do you stay balanced on it? Harness? I assume this is what you're referring to:

      looks cool though [img]/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif[/img]


        C6/7 complete supporting himself on a walker and parallel bars ... ChrisD using an elliptical walker?

        I must be doing so much wrong cause theres no way on God's green earth I could stand on one of those star trac things or use a walker [img]/forum/images/smilies/frown.gif[/img]

        The underachieving C6/7 complete
        Phil C6
        "If you can't explain it to me in less than 10 seconds, it's probably not worth knowing anyway..." - Calvin


          AO - I'm with ya, man. I couldn't support myself in a standing position if my life depended on it.

          C6/7 COMPLETE (or close enough)

          ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~
          ~See you at the CareCure-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~


            Hi, I am a T56 & T9-10. I know your injuries are in the C areas however, at Sci-Step I train daily with a C4-5. They have an elliptical that is motorized. We are placed in a Lite Gait harness and the elliptical foot pegs have snow board foot harness attachments so we stay in it.

            I would suggest checking out Sci-Step to see what brand it is as it may be something you could purchase for yourself. You can look up their info at


              First, I greatly [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img] appreciate the suggested sites members have given. Now that I've seen the variety, I am trying to think of intelligent questions [img]/forum/images/smilies/eek.gif[/img] to ask to determine what will be the best buy for an expensive piece of equipment.
              As I look at the different elliptical trainers, I see that some seem to have a motor in the front and some in the back. It seems like loading and unloading would be easier with the motor in front? ....perhaps a hydraulic lift on one side and the wheelchair on the other. One objective will be to work toward independent use. Anyone have experience with the front and back motor?
              I've seen some foot pedals that are fixed and some seem to be loose allowing for a more individual movement, but also less supported ~ any thoughts here.
              Are stride lengths adjustable? What length should we look for? 17"-26"
              Is there a significant difference in incline / elevation mechanisms on an elliptical - Is this an important feature for SCI exercise? One elliptical said it "offers more lower-body muscle involvement than traditional fitness machines. It provides an average of 30% more gluteal involvement and thoroughly works the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves."
              I guess most ellipticals have an electronic start and stop with heart rate indicator. Is there any other feature that he needs? Is there an automatic stop or other braking / safety features, like on treadmills, in case there is a problem?
              There is quite a variety in arms ~ what is your preference?
              Does anyone have experience with remanufactured equipment?
              I think the well is dry! Sorry to go on for so long~ I appreciate any help you might offer!


                The Mom,

                Good questions. Let me try and answer them for you.


                Loading and unloading. I use a Guldmann lift which is mounted in the ceiling of my garage (you'll need about 8-10 ft high ceiling in order to hoist him up and over the foot "pedals" and drop-in vs. front, back or side load) Try checking out the D2000H? model found here: That should give you an idea about what I'm describing.


                Foot pedals. I believe the more supported the better. I also use a snowboard binding set-up to secure my feet to the "pedals". This (securing the feet) is a must but there are many versions/variations.


                Stride length adjustability. Check with the dealer (the one selling you the elliptical) and they should be able to find a unit based on your son's height, leg length, etc. Most are pretty standard. Pricing is the biggest factor as there are many, many choices depending on your budget.


                Incline / elevation importance. Personally I don't think it matters. The patterning / gaiting (walking motion) is what I'm after. Besides, if you change the incline/elevation then that would require a hoist / harness adjustment.


                Electronic start and stop. Yes, pretty standard. However, with the help of a local handyman/electrician you can add on an extra 'kill' button (big and red) in case there's a problem.


                Arms. I prefer the stationary arms. I tend to stay more balanced and my knee flexion is more consistent.

                The Mom, you haven't mentioned the most important piece of equipment which is the harness that will support him. I bought mine about a year ago from Maine Anti-Gravity systems - ph. 207-781-6565 (sorry, no web link). You can also try Bonmed at Costs vary from $300 to $600 or so.

                To summarize.

                A) Choose a location in your home with at least an 9ft ceiling and strong beam to support the hoist mechanism - such as the Guldmann.

                B) Install hoist system. A litegait may also work.

                C) Purchase the elliptical / natural runner that best suits your needs. As indicated, there are many choices / varieties / prices. Personally I like the Startrac products Once purchased and installed (tested by you or another ab) go to a local ski shop and buy the snowboard bindings for the foot pedals. Again, a handyman helps with this process as well as the kill switch/button installation.

                D) Find a suitable harness that will be supported by the hoist at the shoulders vs. the chest. Try Brigitte at Bonmed or Maine anti-gravity for a harness choice (they're pretty basic).

                E) Hire a local PT to start with so that the settings can be adjusted and your son can get properly fitted for the harness. This is good practice. Does the hoist lift him high enough so that he can be swung over (think of swinging meat in a meat processing plant or a human pinata [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]) and lowered into the foot pedals?

                F) Secure the feet and hit the 'start' button (make sure you're in the slowest setting). And away you go....walking.

                As always please consult with a physician before undergoing this type of program. Blood pressure spikes, dizziness, fatigue are all possible side effects / cautions.

                Good luck. Oh, and also check the thread in this forum entitled "Personal recovery program" for additional tips / suggestions.

                Jmu, AO, Jeff, I can support my weight in a standing position using KAFO's and a walker (swing through gaiting). But when using the elliptical I, obviously, need the harness. Even at C6-7 with enough upper body strength being vertical is possible. Not efficient but doable for exercise purposes. Once I get my left hand flexor tendon transfer surgery done I'm hoping to graduate to forearm crutches sometime next spring.

                Onward & Upward - Evereyone.


                  Chris - Thanks for the detailed info. I had temporarily forgotten about using a harness. Sounds awesome.

                  ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~
                  ~See you at the CareCure-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~


                    if you have reasonable upper body strength wouldn't a trainer that has levers [connected to feet pedals ] for arm/shoulder workout be better ? i mean one without a motor drive . you would be working out other parts of the body while providing the leg motion and if there is any functional leg return , this would be made to work as well .
                    thank you ,

                    every day i wake up is a good one .
                    Every day I wake up is a good one .



                      I thought I addressed this but obviously I wasn't clear in my previous thread.

                      No. As a quad without enough hand grip or strength using the levers is more difficult and less beneficial imo.

                      The purpose of this (elliptical session) is to gait or simulate walking. Hence the need for the motor. Trying to simulate the same by using upper body strength defeats the purpose (this is not an upper body workout) and is more difficult while swinging in the harness and keeping ones legs at the right height/angle, etc. so that they don't hyperextend, etc. while pushing / pulling on the levers.

                      As a walking quad you may have a different experience / opinion. But as a complete injury this has been my experience.

                      your welcome,



                        Yes, Dogger

                        Many patients who are not able to use automated arm swing due to knee or trunk instability, anxiety, or many other reasons are told to use the handlebars mainly for balance, which still allows a loose movement of the shoulder, elbow, and ankles. If the patient has the impression of progress, the patient may start holding the automated arm swing by moving the patients hand in the right direction and rhythm arm swinging is imitated and initiated. A Quadripedal reflex is where the arm swing comes in and the forelimb movements are coordinated with the legs.

                        Janet [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]



                          paras yes, quads no.

                          This is a home based system not in a clinic with lots of assistance. The idea is for this individual to be able to do this by himself eventually. Of course arm swing is better but initially and for safety reasons I think stationary bars are better. So, when purchasing one which one should be bought initially? Stationary.

                          I wrote my response (which I'm now regretting) to The Mom for her purposes in setting something up for her son (quad) presumably at home - not in a clinic.

                          The Mom, apologies. I should have written you in private topics vs. public forum.

                 time [img]/forum/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]


                            Chris D,

                            You might want to try a parallelogram to avoid swinging in your harness. It's very useful for quads.[img]/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif[/img]



                              You can have stationary bars with optional arm swing. Why wouldn't you want to have this option when you start to have the impression of progress?