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Healthbeat 4: Blood flow restriction therapy

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) —  An innovative therapy typically used for military personnel and professional athletes is making an impact on patients in Siouxland.

It involves a high-end pressure cuff and low loads of activity.

The cuff is pressurized based on the patients’ blood pressure.

Physical therapists determine that by using a Doppler ultrasonography.

It estimates the blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves of circulating red blood cells.

The therapy is called blood flow restriction.

For the last three months, CNOS Physical Therapist Shauna Hoak has been treating her patients with a nontraditional form of therapy.

“Blood flow restriction therapy uses a cuff, that we put on the leg or the arm and we inflate that cuff to a certain millimeters mercury that we figure out through doppler,” said Shauna Hoak, CNOS Physical Therapist.

The Doppler ultrasonograph estimates the blood flow through a patient’s blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves of circulating red blood cells.

By adding the cuff and pressurizing it, it restricts blood flow away from the muscle.

“We can exercise a patient at low loads, including cardiovascular and strengthening exercises, so then it allows the muscle to have a swelling effect if you will,” said Hoak, “It allows metabolites such as lactate to stay within the muscle with ultimately helps with muscle strength and muscle growth.”

Hoak says BFR can be used for patients that our post-operative from an ACL reconstruction, meniscal repair or rotator cuff surgery.

“The research is showing us that we are able to strengthen the muscle at a quicker rate using this and supplementing this in our treatment,” said Hoak, “For someone who has a surgery that takes a long time to rehab, we can help with increasing their strength sooner, and getting them back to either competition or regular function activity quicker.”

CNOS began providing the treatment in January and says they’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from patients.

“They say it’s a little different because it causes a lot of fatigue in the muscle, with just doing very minimal exercise. so they say they can’t believe how weak the muscle feels or fatigue it gets and it is just a low load of exercise,” said Hoak.

Hoak says there are two FDA accepted cuffs used by physical therapists.

CNOS provides them at all their outpatient clinics.

Michelle Schoening

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