Renew offers Delphi Personalized Blood Flow Restriction therapy to all appropriate patients. Personalized Blood Flow Restriction training involves the use of a specialized tourniquet system applied to the arm or leg. The tourniquet is inflated to a specific pressure to restrict venous and arterial blood flow to the injured limb before exercise begins. Exercising with a tourniquet around your leg may sound counter-intuitive at best and dangerous at worst. It is, however, both effective and safe, and allows most patients to begin gaining strength much earlier in their rehab process.
After a work or sports injury or a surgery–whenever a patient isn’t able to bear weight through a leg or lift a dumbbell with an arm, it is safe to use BFR and exercise at a high enough intensity to produce strength gains without stressing the injured joints or tissues. BFR also produces impressive aerobic benefits just walking on a treadmill or pedaling a bicycle. You can gain strength (hypertropy) with loads as little as 20 percent of your 1RM. To compare, a weight trainer needs to lift 70 to 80 percent of their1RM to gain hypertrophy. (1RM = maximum amount of weight you can lift 1 time). A session typically lasts anywhere from 6 to 30 minutes based on your protocol. Using the machine two to three times per week, most patients see visible gains in 1 to 4 weeks.
Clinicians are using BFR for many injuries with very positive results including total joint arthroplasties, Achilles repairs, fractures, rotator cuff repairs, muscle strains, nerve injuries, post-operative knee reconstructions and cartilage repairs, and tendinopathies. It can be a bridge to traditional heavy weightlifting. BFR also appears to promote bone density. Over 820 articles have been written studying the efficacy and safety of BFR on patients, young and old, and athletes. Today, most professional sports teams use BFR to speed their injured athletes’ recoveries. The military also uses BFR to rehabilitate soldiers with severely injured limbs.
It works by promoting muscle hypertrophy and strength gains more effectively compared to traditional low load weightlifting done in physical therapy clinics. The exact mechanism behind the strength gains is still being studied. Theories range from a systemic anabolic response and cellular swelling; the production of metabolites that promote a release of growth hormones; the recruitment of more motor units with BFR than with traditional low-load methods of strengthening, such as resistance band exercises, and the down regulation of myostatins that prevent muscle gain. It is most likely a combination of multiple factors. It does appear that muscle protein synthesis plays a primary role.
While there are few risks associated with BFR, it does cause one to grit your teeth and sweat. It’s a hard-core workout that leaves you feeling sore—like you’ve been to the gym. The results will bring you back for more.
If you are curious or skeptical, follow these links to read some of the research from Delphi and Owens Recovery Science websites.
Renew therapists are trained and experienced in the use of the Delphi BFR machine and BFR exercise protocols. PBFR is just one more tool in their treatment toolbox. If you are planning joint replacement or other surgical repair in the future, give Renew a call and schedule a free consultation.