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Can Blood Flow Restriction help you recover faster?

Can Blood Flow Restriction help you recover faster?

Traditional methods for strengthening muscles include performing exercises with increasing resistance such as increasing weight or using resistance bands.

But, what if you are recovering from a surgery and can’t put as much weight through your hip, leg or knee? What if you are limited in your activity tolerance because you are recovering from COVID-19?

Campbell County Health Rehabilitation Services can help you to increase your strength if you can’t tolerate the demands of a strength training exercise program using Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training.

After an injury, there is up to a 30% loss of muscle strength. Combining BFR with low-intensity exercise has been proven to help patients combat this problem.

CCH Physical Therapist Brittany Johnson, PT, DPT, was trained to use BFR therapy to help patients in 2020.

BFR Training is a great rehabilitation tool because it allows patients to reap the benefits of a heavy weight-lifting session while only requiring the patient to perform low-to moderate-intensity training. This reduces the stress to soft tissues that may still be healing. 

“Blood flow restriction allows patients to get stronger without exercising at a level that could hurt them, or that they can’t do,” Brittany says. "Studies have shown that patients who utilize BFR training show greater increases in strength and muscle girth in 12 visits compared to those who utilize traditional strengthening techniques."

For example, with traditional strength training, lifting 70-85% of a person's one repetition maximum helps to achieve increased strength or muscle growth. With BFR, similar results are produced at only 20-35% of a one rep max.

BFR can also help with preventing muscle atrophy, helping new blood vessels develop, decreasing the rise of heart disease and improving bone mineral density.

“Typically, I use the technique for patients who have had an orthopedic procedure such as ACL reconstruction, meniscectomy, hip/knee replacement, rotator cuff and tendon repair; however, I’ve also used it to help patients who are experiencing back pain who can’t do a lot of lifting,” Brittany says.

During BFR training, a patient performs high repetitions of an exercise for up to 20 minutes while wearing bands that look a lot like blood pressure cuffs around their upper arms or upper legs with use of light resistance.

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy also can be used with biking, walking or other aerobic exercise to improve muscle strength, size and cardiovascular fitness as well.

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training is a treatment done by certified Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants and Occupational Therapist Assistants at CCH Rehabilitation Services. To see if adding BFR training to your treatment would be beneficial to your recovery, contact 307.688.8000. Our compassionate and experienced staff helps each patient, in a team-oriented atmosphere, reach their goals.

Visit www.cchwyo.org/rehab to learn more about physical therapy treatment options in Gillette, Wyoming.