When Nick Durst, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at Prowers Medical Center heard the Broncos and Nuggets were using a new strength training therapy called Blood Flow Restriction, or BFR, he just had to learn more. What he discovered impressed him so much that he decided to become one of only four current PTs in Colorado to become certified in the therapy—and to offer it right here in Lamar.
“The use of BFR outside of the military is very new, and it will change the landscape of physical therapy. There’s not too many things that spark this much research and attention, but right now there are 14 clinical trials going on, and 106 college and professional teams using it,” Durst said.
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy has been around about 10 years, but until recently has been used mostly to treat wounded soldiers. BFR is used for both rehabilitation before and after surgery or injury, and for improving athletic performance.
“When someone has surgery, they’re at risk for having significant atrophy of the associated muscles in as early as 10 days to two weeks. Often, a doctor advises restricted weight bearing on the limb for a few weeks. With BFR, we can start patients exercising right away after surgery to avoid muscle loss,” Durst said.
BFR uses a tourniquet or blood flow restriction cuff, similar to a blood pressure cuff, to limit blood flow to the affected muscle. Then, the person exercises the muscle at low intensity. Current clinical trials show that they receive the same benefit as they would with a high intensity work out, but without the chance of injury to the muscle, joint and surrounding tissues.
“With traditional strength training, you must lift a great amount of weight to build muscle. Now, you can have the same results with low resistance and less pain,” Durst added.
Prowers Medical Center just started using the therapy with their orthopedic patients after surgery for procedures including total knee replacements, ACL repairs, rotator cuff repairs, osteoarthritis, ankle sprains and athletic injuries. Eventually, they hope to use it for athletic performance as well.
“It’s a great way to increase strength after surgery, or make you more prepared for surgery, so you’ll experience less pain and a quicker recovery,” he said.
BFR therapy is typically covered by insurance at no additional cost. It takes between 8 to 15 minutes to complete, and your blood pressure is monitored the entire time. While some people are using their own tourniquets at the gym to mimic BFR Therapy, it’s not safe to do so.
“Athletes and weight trainers are putting tubing on themselves as tourniquets, and it’s unsafe. The amount of occlusion—or blocking of blood flow—needed is different for everyone
depending on their size, blood pressure, and health status. Plus, blood pressure should be constantly monitored,” Durst said.
If you are interested in learning more about this cutting-edge therapy offered at Prowers Medical Center for pre- or post-surgery use, or to enhance athletic performance in the future, call Rehab Services at (719) 336-6728.
About Nick Durst, DPT
Nick graduated from Utah State University in 2006 with his Bachelor’s degree in Pre-Physical Therapy and his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ in 2010. He is originally from Springville, UT and joined the Rehabilitation Team at Prowers Medical Center in October 2010. Nick has certification to perform Therapeutic Dry Needling, Blood Flow Restriction training, Functional Capacity Evaluations, custom orthotic fitting, and has received training in the use of the SFMA (selective functional movement assessment). He enjoys the outdoors, and coaching community youth soccer leagues.