Although blood flow restriction therapy has been around for years, it hasn’t really been noticed outside of the world of sports. Athletes sometimes use it to get back in the game as quickly as possible, but you may be surprised at how it can help you recover from certain injuries. New Heights Physical Therapy wants to offer all of our clients their best shot at recovery–let’s learn more about BFR, and if it might be right for your physical therapy!
Before we continue, we want to urge all of our readers to consult a doctor or physical therapist if you’re considering blood flow restriction as an option. If performed improperly, there are significant risks of injury to muscles, arteries, and blood vessels.
What Is Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation?
During BFR, a cuff or device is placed above the desired muscle, decreasing the blood supply to the area. Ideally, a minimum of 50 percent of the blood flow to the area should be decreased in order to create hypertrophy or enlargement of the muscle.
But why do all this? BFR has shown strengthening results, even when less effort is put forth. For instance, you would lift lighter weights, but still get the muscle-building effects. This has outstanding implications for patients with injuries or exercise restrictions that would otherwise prevent them from certain rigorous strength training.
How Does Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation Work?
Your therapist will use a cuff of just the right diameter, placing it as high as possible on your treated limb. The cuff will then be pumped up to partially block blood flow. Your therapist will then guide you through exercises.
BFR has been shown to be effective at strengthening muscles that have long been weak. This strategy can also decrease healing time for muscles and bones following surgery. Even when you need to keep a limb immobilized, BFR can ensure that you do not lose muscle mass or experience atrophy.
What Does BFR Treat?
BFR can be used to treat patients who are unable to perform exercises, as well as those who can perform only limited isometric exercises. Here are some specific instances where BFR may be helpful:
- Ligament reconstruction
- Post-operative lower extremity weakness
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Sarcopenia and Dynapenia
Who Is a Good Candidate for Blood Flow Restriction?
If you have any of the above diagnoses, your practitioner may recommend BFR for you. It is great for increasing strength without loading already diseased or injured limbs. However, if you have a history of DVTs, varicose veins or other venous diseases, you may not be a good candidate for this therapy. It’s very important to consult with a doctor or your therapist throughout the entire BFR process, so you can continue to gain strength without risking your health.
When BFR is done correctly, it is completely safe, and can build muscle strength in injured areas quickly. The best way to know whether BFR is right for you is to have an honest chat with your medical practitioner or your physical therapist. While it is not useful in every instance, it can be beneficial if you have severe conditions, are trying to avoid a joint replacement, cannot put weight on a certain limb, or have a history of joint sprains due to weakness. If you’re interested in BFR, contact New Heights today!
Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas: