All You Want To Know About Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation
Blood flow restriction or BFR is a technique used in physical therapy. Though the technique has been in use since 1960’s, it is now widely used to improve the patient’s condition.
The history of the BFR technique
Yoshiaki Sato developed this technique when he was 18 years old. In 1966 he found that after sitting in seiza position for long period his legs felt fatigued. He started “blood flow restriction training” in 1973 when he had an ankle injury and his leg was in a cast for about six weeks. He used belts to restrict the flow of blood and did isometric exercises. When the cast was removed, doctors were surprised to see that there was no atrophy of muscles. Sato after much investigation and training started a personal training clinic in the 1980s. He introduced “occlusion training” and it was well received by the Japanese and European bodybuilders. He developed “KAATSU” pneumatic bands. The word KAATSU means additional pressure.
Rehabilitation by BFR gained popularity when military personnel started using it for improving muscle strength and size of their injured limbs. People with injured or amputated limbs and limb salvage procedure found it difficult to lift heavyweights due to weakened muscles and pain. With BFR training, they developed strong muscles. Olympic athletes started using this workout to improve their heavy lifting.
What is BFR training?
To do BFR training narrow elastic bands are needed. The patient or athlete will have to wear the band around the upper portion of the arm or leg which needs exercise. The band restricts the venous blood flow without affecting the arterial blood flow to the leg or arm. This blood flow restriction causes a systemic response similar to training with heavy weights. Wearing the band and doing repetitions of the exercise using light weights will help in muscle strengthening benefit without the need for lifting heavy weights. This is highly helpful for people healing from injury as there is less strain on tissues.
How BFR works?
Exercising with blood flow restriction band and using lighter weights cause disturbance in homeostasis in targeted areas. The muscles in that area will not get sufficient blood flow to cause contractions. This in turn will cause the release of certain autonomic and anabolic hormones, which get circulated through the body. This systemic response cause increased protein synthesis in the particular area. As there is very little damage to the soft tissue by using BFR, strength and endurance improve quickly. Tissues which are proximal and distal to the area where bands are applied get benefitted by the effects of BFR.
Who can use BFR?
Though BFR can be a part of regular fitness routine, it can also be used by physiotherapy clinics for treating outpatients provided there are trained professionals to supervise the workout. Patients who need rehabilitation after surgery of upper or lower extremity, patients underwent hip/ knee replacement, ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, meniscectomy or tendon repair can get benefitted by BFR. Patients suffering from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and osteopenia may benefit from BFR. This technique is also effective for stroke patients and people with spinal cord injury.
How safe is BFR?
Researchers have shown that BFR is a safe, comfortable and effective technique if the exercises are done in an appropriate manner and are monitored by a professional. Select a professional Wyckoff physical therapist that can successfully guide you.
Call Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation today!