When it comes to physical therapy and rehabilitation, we are constantly looking for ways to help patients recover more quickly and efficiently. Blood Flow Restriction Training, also abbreviated as BFRT, is an innovative physical therapy treatment our therapists are utilizing that helps patients achieve greater strength gains while lifting lighter loads, thereby reducing the overall stress on the musculoskeletal system.
So, what does that all mean?
Essentially, BFRT uses a specialized cuff that is applied to either the arm or leg. This cuff inflates, similarly to a blood pressure cuff, and uses a tourniquet system to reduce blood inflow and block blood outflow in the limb. This helps to deprive the muscles of oxygen, causing all muscle fibers to fire – both slow and fast twitch fibers. Normally, only the slow twitch muscles fire, so the BFRT allows the patient to create significant strength and muscle growth effects while exercising at light loads.
While it may sound a bit counterintuitive – cutting down the blood supply to the limb that is being exercised – the physiological reaction that occurs to the restriction of the blood flow can help increase strength and healing! The use of BFRT allows an individual to exercise with very low weight or resistance and receive the same results as if they were lifting heavy weights or exercising with heavy resistance.
Why would someone use Blood Flow Restriction Training during their physical therapy treatment?
In the outpatient physical therapy setting, it helps patients regain strength and muscle size much quicker than they would otherwise. BFRT also allows physical therapists to protect the sensitive and fragile tissue of their patients but help them experience the gains from exercise. The treatment is used in combination with normal physical therapy visits and traditional treatment methods to help accelerate recovery.
Who can benefit from BFRT?
Any age can utilize BFRT during their physical therapy treatment, from pediatric to geriatric patients, athletes and anyone in between. Commonly, post-surgical individuals use BFRT during their recovery, but we have also seen individuals with progressively degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis use the treatment and it has helped them to maintain and sometimes even gain strength.
Is BFRT safe?
Care is always taken to ensure patient safety at RehabAuthority. Therapists who offer BFRT complete advanced training to use the devices utilized during the therapy and have the requisite knowledge needed to ensure patient safety. Our facilities utilize the only two FDA approved devices that use Doppler ultrasound to ensure precise measurements of blood flow.
Is there a significant additional cost to use BFRT during my treatment?
This is the best part! BFRT falls under normal physical therapy treatment protocols so there is no additional cost or expense to incorporate the treatment method into your rehabilitative care.
***To learn more about Blood Flow Restriction Training or to see if your therapist offers this treatment, call your local RehabAuthority clinic today!***