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J Foot Ankle Surg. 2018 May - Jun;57(3):635-638. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2017.11.008. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Blood Flow Restriction Training After Achilles Tendon Rupture.

Author information

1
Surgeon, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Electronic address: bobby.g.yow2.mil@mail.mil.
2
Surgeon, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX.
3
Assistant Professor, Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS.
4
Physical Therapist, Center for the Intrepid, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX.

Abstract

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a technique shown to be safe and effective at increasing muscular strength and endurance in healthy fitness populations and is under study for its use in postinjury rehabilitation. BFR stimulates muscular strength and hypertrophy gains at much lower loads than traditional methods, allowing patients to begin the rehabilitation process much sooner. We report on 2 patients who incorporated BFR training into their traditional rehabilitation program after Achilles tendon ruptures. Patient 1 was a 29-year-old active duty soldier who sustained a left Achilles tendon rupture while playing competitive football. After operative repair and traditional rehabilitative measures, he was unable to ambulate without assistive devices owing to persistent weakness. The patient subsequently started a 5-week "return to run" program using BFR training. He experienced plantarflexion peak torque improvements of 522% and 108.9% and power gains of 4475% and 211% at 60°/s and 120°/s, respectively. He was able to ambulate without assistive devices at the 5-week follow-up examination. Patient 2 was a 38-year-old male soldier who experienced a complete left Achilles tendon rupture while exercising. After nonoperative treatment with an accelerated rehabilitation program, the patient still experienced significant strength and functional deficits. He was subsequently enrolled in a 6-week course of BFR training. He experienced plantarflexion strength improvements of 55.8% and 47.1% and power gains of 68.8% and 78.7% at 60°/s and 120°/s, respectively. He was able to return to running and sports on completion of 6 weeks of BFR-assisted therapy. Incorporating tourniquet-assisted blood flow restriction with rehabilitation programs can improve strength, endurance, and function after Achilles tendon rupture.

KEYWORDS:

ankle plantarflexion; blood flow; muscle strength; rehabilitation; return to run; sports

PMID:
29477554
DOI:
10.1053/j.jfas.2017.11.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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