Is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy Right for You?
If you’ve had joint replacement, rotator cuff repair, Achilles tendon ruptures, severe arthritis – or if you just have trouble with weight resistance, Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFRT) can help you regain muscle strength, improve performance and develop cardiovascular endurance.
“It allows people to build up muscle quickly,” said Physical Therapist Marvin Spicer of Wayne UNC Orthopedic Physical Therapy. With BFRT, a licensed therapist applies specialized therapeutic tourniquets around your upper arms or legs before exercise. These tourniquets temporarily and intermittently restrict blood flow, reducing stress on weak muscle tissue and minimizing delayed onset muscle soreness. Patients can then work out using a much lighter weight load and still achieve the same goals they would if using heavier weight loads, said Spicer.
“We use BFRT to treat everyone, from athletes to senior citizens,” Spicer says. While BFRT is often part of a post-surgery treatment plan, medical providers sometimes recommend it as a safe alternative for those who want to avoid for surgery altogether.
A licensed physical therapist will work closely with each new patient in a one-on-one session designed to assess that patient’s specific needs. This session includes placing a BFRT cuff on the patient who will then perform three to five sets of exercises, with 15-30 repetitions each, depending on ability.
“We follow guidelines but we tailor them to the patient,” says Spicer. “We adjust based on what we’re seeing.” Once a patient’s ability is accurately assessed, an exercise plan is developed.
Although patients can occasionally experience minor discomfort in the beginning, they usually understand that the benefit they gain is much greater than any discomfort they may feel in the moment, says Spicer. As always, the goal of each physical therapist is to help patients achieve the best possible results while maintaining the highest level of comfort possible.
BFRT is available with or without a referral from a physician, depending on insurance coverage.
For more information, contact us 919-587-3169 or request an appointment online.