How Blood Flow Restriction Therapy can be a Game Changer During Physical Therapy

Physical therapy using blood flow restriction is beneficial immediately after surgery.Within the field of physical therapy,  new techniques are starting to revolutionize the way we approach rehabilitation and performance enhancement. Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Therapy offers remarkable benefits for patients recovering from surgery, recent injuries, or seeking to improve their strength and performance. Adding BFR training to your physical therapy has been shown to have many benefits for a patient in the early stages of their recovery. It allows patients to achieve muscle growth and strength gains with lighter weights, earlier in their rehabilitation then they previously could which can help to minimize the stress on injured or weakened tissues.

How Blood Flow Restriction Therapy Works

BFR Therapy utilizes a specialized cuff or band to safely restrict arterial blood flow to a targeted muscle group while performing different low-impact exercises.   By limiting the amount of oxygen flowing into the muscle temporarily, BFR Therapy ‘tricks’ the muscles into thinking they are working at a much higher level of intensity.  Performing low-intensity exercises with BFR Therapy promotes the release of anabolic hormones that help to start muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy.  It activates fast-twitch muscle fibers that are normally found with high-intensity workouts. The activation of these fast-twitch muscle fibers leads to better cardiovascular endurance, oxygen utilization, and overall aerobic capacity. Finally, when blood restriction is controlled, it helps to enhance the release of growth factors (which promote tissue regeneration) in the muscles being activated under the blood flow restrictions. All of these benefits allow for faster healing, reduced swelling, and enhanced functional recovery.

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and Physical Therapy

Adding blood flow restriction therapy to the early stages of a physical therapy program is especially beneficial for post-surgical rehabilitation and muscle atrophy prevention.  Physical therapy patients that are using BFR Therapy early on in their recovery program can benefit from the enhanced strength and endurance created just like they are performing different high-intensity exercises, even when they are unable to perform those intense exercises due to weakness or post surgical limitations. Despite using low weights and resistance patients using BFR therapy will achieve significant muscle activation and strength gains compared to those who do not.  All without overloading their joints or tissues with stress which is especially important in the early stages post-surgery. 

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFR) is a great tool in the early stages of physical therapy after surgeries like ACL reconstruction, meniscus repairs, fractures, ankle sprains, and other sport injuries.When discussing Blood Flow Restriction with Dr. Brian Ireland, PT, DPT he noted “Patients that use BFR training almost get a ‘jump start’ on their recovery post surgery.  Our bodies respond to a surgical procedure just like any other trauma to the body.  Muscles in and around the area get ‘shut off’ and begin to immediately atrophy; making the early stages of therapy very challenging.  By performing the exact same exercises we normally would at this stage of the recovery process with the addition of BFR therapy the effected muscles get stronger quicker.”  Dr Ireland added, “For some the change is dramatic.  What strength gains may have taken some two to three weeks to achieve they are now getting in two to three sessions!”

BeneFIT Physical Therapy uses a continuously monitored Blood Flow Restriction Machine to perform BFR therapy.  Each session the machine is calibrated to a certain percentage of blood flow restriction based on the patient’s phase of recovery and response to BFR therapy to that point.  Once the initial set up is complete the machine continually monitors to ensure that the percent restriction is maintained throughout the reps and sets of each exercise.  The other benefit of using a continuously monitored machine is the therapist knows exactly the percentage of restriction and the amount of pressure that is being applied.  Both factors ensure consistency in the recovery process.

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy is helping to improve the world of physical therapy and rehabilitation by offering many advantages for patients that are looking for performance gains as well as optimal recovery from a safe non-invasive addition to their therapy. Through its unique ability to help promote muscle growth, improve endurance, and speed up rehabilitation, it could be a very valuable addition to any treatment plan. If you are looking to maximize your rehabilitation potential or improve your strength and performance, BeneFit Physical Therapy can help you to explore the benefits of Blood Flow Restriction and unlock your true potential! 

If you have any questions about blood flow restriction therapy or are interested in recovering from your upcoming or recent surgery please feel free to contact us to get you a head start on your recovery!  Blood Flow Restriction Therapy is offered at both of our Bridgewater NJ and Chester NJ locations.