New Therapy Improves Body by Tricking It

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Knee and shoulder injuries can hinder the body for months. Now a relatively new therapy is being used in the Sioux Empire and it helps strengthen the body by tricking it.

Blood flow restriction is being coined the new ‘it’ therapy by Sanford Health. They say BFR’s taken off locally in the past year and nearly 100 Sanford clients have tried it.

“What it’s trying to do is trick that patient’s body into thinking that they’re lifting super heavy or running super-fast,” says Sanford Physical Therapist Matt Rollag.

It does so by decreasing the amount of oxygen that a person would have in their leg or arm as they’re exercising.

“They’re able to do just body weight stuff or none weight bearing exercises. While still getting the benefits of them mimicking heavy lifting,” says Rollag.

Andrew Olsen is a hockey player out of Worthington, Minnesota. He tore his ACL last summer and wasn’t finding the results through traditional therapy so his surgeon recommended BFR. Now Olsen travels twice a week to the field house, and in the past month is seeing improvements.

“Here I come do some easy workouts and they are 300 times harder. You definitely can feel it, and it’s that lactic acid feeling. Where it just burns and burns. It’s not as bad as it looks. I definitely recommend it,” says Olsen.

Rollag says it’s meant for more than just athletes.

“One of the other things that we are excited about is that we’re seeing some good outcomes in our elderly population. Not elderly, elderly but older people who still want to be active and are maybe dealing with some osteoarthritis,” says Rollag.

People must be motivated when trying this therapy.

“Because it is uncomfortable, it feels like a blood pressure cuff on your leg but take that times 5 or 10 and it’s more uncomfortable than that,” says Rollag.

Rollag doesn’t recommend people trying it on themselves since it’s more than just cutting off circulation.

Blood flow restriction therapy should be used early on in the recovery process– when patients haven’t been cleared for heavy lifting or rigorous work.

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