A UNIQUE treadmill in Bognor Regis can help people to walk again.
The anti-gravity piece of equipment has been installed in the Laburnum Centre gym for a four-week trial.
Its operator, Age UK West Sussex, is seeking to raise £30,000 to ensure it becomes permanent because of the benefits it will offer people with a range of medical conditions and injuries.
The treadmill works with an inflatable bag which absorbs the users’ weight as they step on to it.
Sarah Smith, the centre’s assistant manager, said it was rare to have the equipment in a gym used by the public.
“This is going to be life-changing for people and, once the machine is in, they will not want to let it go.
“Can you imagine what it will be like for someone in constant pain to be able to walk or run after years of pain?
“I think there will be tears of joy when they use it,” she said.
“This is the only treadmill of its type that we know of in this area. The only other one locally is in Littlehampton and that is for private use.
“The treadmill comes from Nasa technology for astronauts and it reduces a person’s weight by as much as 80 per cent.
“That means a person who weighs ten stone will only be two stone when they are using it.”
The treadmill allows people with bad knees or hips and those with MS, cerebral palsy or neurological disorders to exercise by absorbing most of their weight and taking the pressure off their joints.
Its arrival at the centre in Lyon Street builds on the gym’s work with GPs, Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital and St Wilfrid’s Hospice to reduce the pressure on the NHS by providing the chance to get fit and mix socially with other over-50s.
Town mayor Cllr Phil Woodall was among the first to see the treadmill. He said: “This is an impressive piece of kit.
“Having read about this amazing piece of equipment, it is one of only 150 in the country. Many of the others are in closed units, military bases or private hospitals.
“I am sure that it wll help many people to rehabilitate after knee and hip operations and prepare for them as well. It’s important people keep active no matter what their age.”
* An open evening at the centre from 6pm on March 1 will enable anyone interested to use the treadmill.