View Full Version : Need information about names of exercise/workout machines

12-19-2006, 05:57 AM
I'm writing a scene that takes place at a Veteran's hospital P.T. unit/workout gym. I need some different names of machines. One of my characters has an arm amputated, another is para, and another has some other limb amputated (not sure what, depending on what machines I can come up with). I'm thinking free weights and bench press but I'm not even quite sure what is required in terms of strength or ability. Anyone know???

12-20-2006, 02:25 AM
You'd never know it to look at me, but I worked a Nautilus or Cybex circuit on and off for years. (I'm the one to call when your car needs a push in the snow.) Those are two widely distributed brands of resistance-training machines which tend to be sold and used in sets, one machine for each muscle group. Nautilus was the first big-name brand I knew about, but lots of gyms replaced it with Cybex.

If you want to know more about such equipment, you can get a free tour of any gym by saying you're considering joining. The JCC and YMCA seem to be leading people through frequently and are open to questions. Or you can go here (http://ecybex.com/) or better, here (http://www.nautilus.com/nautilus_brand_commercial_equipment/commercialfacilities/medicalseniorfacilities.jsp?lid=Medical/Senior+Facilities).

I had some physical therapy about 3 years ago, and I didn't see anything like free weights or bench press machines (or barbells and benches). Most of what they had was dumbbells (hand weights), bands of stretchy stuff like dead balloons, or rubber tubing when you got stronger, and a little very light cardio equipment like a stationary bike and a rowing machine.

Loss of either arm is going to render most gym equipment for the upper body unuseable. Inability to use the lower body will do the opposite. If the person missing an arm has excellent balance, they can use the elliptical crosstrainer, stair climber, treadmill, stationary bike, running track, etc. I don't know what the set-up might be for the veteran who can't use his lower body.

Since VA hospitals tend to be under-funded, the odds are their equipment will be old and perhaps in poor condition, with split grips (like a bicycle grip), cracked vinyl, seats that don't hold steady, etc.

Like a lot of things, if you need much detail you may have to arrange a visit to the real deal, in this case a VA fitness and recovery facility.

Maryn, hoping this has been at least a little helpful

12-21-2006, 02:31 AM
This is all extremely helpful - thanks, Maryn!!!

Al Henderson
12-22-2006, 08:48 PM
Actually, there are many machines which would be helpful to an amputee - in fact, they would represent that person's only option, in many instances. Someone with only one arm could never use a barbell ... but there are certain exercises they could perform with a dumb-bell.

It's a question of balance. This is where some of the exercise machines would benefit them. For example, any pressing machine - say, bench press or shoulder press - on which the two sides are joined and cannot move independantly and upon which the person can sit (yielding three points of contact/support) would be practical. When I was a trainer, I often had people use such machines to strengthen a 'weak side' - they would simply 'ease off' the strong side, a little.

With dumb-bells, basically, the closer 'bell stays to the body's centre line, the easier the exercise would be for an amputee. For example, pressing directly overhead, while seated on a bench, would be easy enough - doing a lateral raise, in which the 'bell is swung out to the side, to shoulder height, would be far more difficult, if not impossible. This exercise could be performed, though, using a low pulley.

There are so many options for even an amputee - far too many to present here. If you have any more specific questions (like what exercises for a particular bodypart, etc.), feel free to drop me a line.

(Hmm ... just give me time to change my options, here, so that I can be contacted. I just registered, today. *grin*)

Cheers -

Al Henderson
12-22-2006, 09:28 PM
Whoa! I cannot believe I left this out of my initial post, above, but ...

Although I have been studying fitness, training, nutrition, kinesiology and such for nearly thirty years - and training others (toward a myriad of goals) throughout that time - the fact remains that I am not a 'physiotherapist'. Neither I nor anyone like me should be a first resource for you. You REALLY ought to contact a Veterans' Hospital and ask to speak with a physiotherapist. Explain the project you're working on and ask for a time that you could meet with them for a brief run-down of procedures - perhaps even a tour. Your writing will certainly ring more true for it.

One of the last things I would recommend is simply popping in to any old gym and having the 'trainer-of-the-moment' answer your questions. (There really are a lot of unknowledgable yahoos in those jobs.)

Cheers -

12-23-2006, 04:59 AM
Thanks, Al. Really good info. I am definitely going to tour some facilities and check into other resources, but for the draft I'm working on I wanted it to "ring true" before I go into depth on the research. Thanks for telling me about the physiotherapist, too - I didn't realize that was the right name! Oh, and welcome to the forum.

12-28-2006, 12:12 PM
Dumbells and barbells are free-weights. Free weights are weights that are not on a machine.

I generally do not call cables free weight (I call them cables...) though technically they act in the same way as free weights do so some people do include cables in the free weight catagory.

I would guess that the hospital would start people off on machines and build them towards the free weights as they adapt to their bodies new abilities. If they still have both legs they could easily still do squats, lunges and step ups. With only one leg they could do leg presses and single leg squats. Don't give them leg extensions or leg curls are these are not very good for rehab.

For the upper body I would have them on a machine row, machine lat pull down, machine chest press and machine shoulder press as the first stage and then build according to how they adapt from there.

My choice of machines is so the person can experience success. Free weights are harder to control than machine and you don't want a recent amputee having more obsticals in their path. PM me your scene and I will check it for technical errors if you like.


12-29-2006, 06:25 AM
Thanks, Karen! I will definitely PM you the scene when I get it done.