Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and How It Benefits You

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September 10, 2020
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and How It Benefits You

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (or BFR) is a rising topic in the physical therapy world – especially here at Strive PT. Strive is proud to have a certified BRF therapist within all of our offices since a continuing education course in February of 2020. Here our PTs learned more about this evidence based treatment. Although this treatment has been around since the 1960’s, there has been a recent increase of research and support for BFR.

Research conducted in 2006 showed that BFR groups can see a 30-50% increase in muscle fiber area within the first 4-8 weeks during and post training. This can be especially useful to avoid muscle atrophy for post-surgical conditions!

Ryan Ackerman, Clinical Director of our Mullica Hill office, is trained in Blood Flow Restriction. He was able to answer some of the frequently asked questions about BFR with us.

What is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFR) is the brief restriction of arterial and venous blood flow performed by applying a tourniquet to an upper or lower limb. BFR has been found to result in improvements in muscle strength, size, and activation. It has also been found to result in whole body benefits including cardiovascular benefits. BFR typically allows a therapist to increase strength with little to no weight, reducing stresses placed on the joint. This intervention has been found to be safe when performed by a trained therapist.

What conditions can BFR Therapy assist in treating?
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy can assist in treating a wide variety of conditions. Some of the most common conditions include: Post-surgical conditions, various tendinitis conditions, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff injuries, and more!

How is BFR Therapy performed?
BFR is performed by applying a tourniquet to the affected limb at a specific pressure to allow for occlusion of venous pressure, while still allowing for arterial blood flow. BFR is used for strengthening exercises at a significantly reduced weight than would normally be required, while still resulting in muscle fatigue and strength gains. It can also be used to improve cardiovascular endurance or in combination with other treatments such as muscle electrical stim.

How many sessions of BFR therapy do I need before I experience benefits?
BFR therapy is typically used 2-3x per week and patients can typically begin seeing benefits within the first couple of weeks.

What are the benefits of BFR therapy?
Some of the benefits of using BFR treatment in therapy include:
    -Increased muscle strength
    -Increased muscle size
    -Improved muscular efficiency and motor control
    -Improved cardiovascular efficiency
    -Reduced joint pain
        …And other systemic benefits!

Is BFR covered by insurance?
BFR is covered by insurance as a standard PT treatment!

Additional Statistics:
A study in 2006 showed that BFR with cycling 15 minutes 3x/week for 8 weeks resulted in a 15.4% improvement in endurance as opposed to a control group riding 45 min 3x/week.

A 2017 study showed that Quadriceps strengthening with BFR resulted in a 93% reduction in pain and 49% increase in knee extensor strength in patients with anterior knee pain.

Ryan Ackerman, PT, DPT, CSCS, Cert.MDT ... Read Ryan’s bio here.

More questions about BFR?

Email Ryan directly at [email protected] or ask the BFR therapist at local Strive office near you.