Novel physical therapy approach improves recovery

MIRAMAR, Fla. – Each year, half of all Americans over the age of 18 will develop an injury that lasts longer than three months and often requires physical therapy.

At Memorial Healthcare outpatient rehabilitation centers, therapists are now working with a novel approach that’s helping patients gain strength without lifting heavy loads.

One such patient is 16-year-old Marcus Arayata, who’s passionate about playing soccer.

During practice in early 2022, a simple move caused severe damage to his knee.

“I didn’t think much of it until I got my MRI where they said I completely tore it, and it was like, ‘Oh, this is big news’ because it was nothing I really expected,” Arayata said.

Following surgery to repair the injury, he began physical therapy at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Rehab at Memorial Miramar where specialists are working with an innovative approach called Blood Flow Restriction Training.

“The idea of it is you’re taking a person’s leg or their arm and you’re putting a cuff on their arm, and you’re basically restricting the flow of blood to that body part,” said Davide Ioffredi, a licensed physical therapist and athletic trainer with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

By restricting blood flow, and, in turn, oxygen, the process actually creates a high level of strengthening without the need for heavy weight-bearing exercises.

“The concept is you’re doing a very basic exercise, such as lifting your leg, and it creates an effect that your muscles feel like they’re lifting 1,000 pounds or 2,000 pounds,” Ioffredi said.

In the end, patients can recover more quickly from injury.

“You’re kind of startling the body and it creates this response where hormones are being released and you get a lot more strengthening,” Ioffredi said.

Though he was skeptical at first, Arayata said the results speak for themselves.

“My goal is by the end of the year to at least play a game, which I’m really looking forward to,” he said.

Blood Flow Restriction Training is regulated and based on specific parameters to make it safe for the patient.

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