During BFR therapy, a specialized cuff is wrapped around the affected limb and inflated to reduce blood flow. This causes muscle cells to swell and heal without stressing joints or soft tissue.
“BFR tricks the brain into thinking that damage is occurring, so it releases natural hormones, including testosterone and insulin growth factor,” explains physical therapist Marcus C. Ward, PT, DPT. “These hormones stimulate muscle repair and growth. Combined with very light exercise, the technique can help patients achieve two to three months of progress in only three weeks with less demand and stress on the injured area.”
CentraState is one of the first hospitals in the area to offer BFR therapy. Initially developed in Japan in 1973, it was introduced in the United States in 2014 to treat injured soldiers. The American Physical Therapy Association adopted the technique in 2018.
Brian started BFR therapy after two months of traditional physical therapy. After six BFR sessions, his quadriceps muscle had grown 1.6 inches – a gain that would have been impossible with conventional exercise over the same time. A week later, he could complete agility and jumping exercises without pain.
“I only lifted very light weights when the cuffs were on, but they felt so much heavier,” Brian says. “I knew it was a good workout because I left physical therapy sweating.”
By the ninth session, he could deadlift 275 pounds.
The technique is appropriate for patients of all ages with orthopedic, sports-related, or neuromuscular injuries, and can be utilized before or after surgery. CentraState also offers BFR for patients with multiple sclerosis, which allows them to receive the benefits of intensive physical therapy without overexertion.
Once physical therapy ended, Brian completed exercises at home before returning to the gym. Now, he’s back where he loves to be.
“My leg feels stronger than it did before it broke,” he says. “I’m a second and a half faster than I was last year. I’m so glad I tried BFR therapy.”
For more information on physical rehabilitation services at CentraState, visit centrastate.com/rehab or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).