The best physical therapists have a variety of methods and techniques in their arsenal so they can respond to each unique patient with the most appropriate treatment plan that gives them the strongest chance of recovering. In addition to traditional interventions like manual (hands-on) therapy and stretching and strengthening exercises that often serve as the backbone of most programs, developments in technology and research have opened the door for new ways of delivering treatment to patients. One technique that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is called blood flow restriction training (BFRT), which can produce rapid gains in strength and boost recovery from injury in New York City when integrated into a physical therapy plan.
After suffering an injury or while recovering from a recent surgery, one of the most pressing issues patients face is loss of strength from inactivity. This is often inevitable when pain and disability prevent one from exercising a certain body part, and it’s one of the major obstacles to overcome while working back to full functionality. Building back muscle through targeted strengthening exercises is helpful and typically a necessity of the rehabilitation process, but it can take time, especially after severe injuries.
This is where BFRT comes in. For athletes and patients looking to accelerate their recovery, BFRT alters the flow of blood to specific muscles and takes advantage of the body’s natural response to produce strength gains at lighter weights that are comparable to gains that would normally be obtained with heavier weights. Here’s how it works:
- After performing careful measurements, the physical therapist will place a specialized elastic belt (or cuff) around the upper portion of either the arm or leg that will be exercised
- The cuff is inflated to a specific pressure that is individualized for each patient
- This pressure partially restricts the flow of blood through the veins while allowing blood to flow through arteries normally
- The patient will then perform a series of strengthening exercises with a resistance band or light weights while the therapist provides guidance
Partially restricting venous blood flow disturbs the homeostasis of the muscles near the location of the cuff because they don’t receive enough blood to contract. This leads to the production of hormones that move throughout the body, and this response will add to the local response in muscles and increase the number of proteins being made. The end result is that doing lots of repetitions with BFRT will strengthen muscles to a similar degree that heavy lifting would produce. The main difference is that the lighter loads don’t stress the muscle and tissue as much as heavy loads, which leads to even more rapid improvements.
Anyone recovering from surgery or injury in New York City can benefit from BFRT
Since BFRT only minimally damages muscles and tissues, it’s ideal for patients of all ages recovering from surgery or injury in New York City. While working with heavy loads can actually slow down rehabilitation, BFRT allows patients to experience similar benefits, but at a rapid rate and without the same risks. BFRT is most commonly used on patients recovering from surgeries of the upper and lower extremities like ACL reconstructions, meniscectomies, hip or knee replacements, and rotator cuff repair, but they are certainly not the only patients that can stand to benefit. BFRT can also be effective for individuals recovering from musculoskeletal injuries like sprains, strains, and fractures, and may be appropriate for some patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis, as well as those recovering from a stroke or spinal cord injury.
If you’re currently recovering from surgery or an injury in New York City, a physical therapy program that includes BFRT at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy could be right for you. Call us at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to learn more about BFRT.