Revolutions in Rehab

New physical therapies help patients get stronger faster




Physical therapists at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital have an arsenal of new therapies and equipment to help patients get stronger, restore mobility and resume their normal lives, including a cutting-edge treatment called blood flow restricted (BFR) rehabilitation. BFR therapy uses a special tourniquet system that resembles a large blood pressure monitor cuff.

The cuff is applied to the upper arm or leg to safely restrict blood flow within specific parameters while a patient is exercising. The device allows patients recovering from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, meniscectomy, hip/knee replacement, rotator cuff repair and many other procedures and injuries to use lighter resistance yet achieve the strengthening benefits of heavy lifting without stress to the limb.

BFR rehabilitation has been used by the military to improve muscle strength following limb injuries and loss, and has become popular in general orthopedic and sports rehabilitation, according to Marina Stockton, DPT, Physical Therapy Supervisor at Henry Mayo. 

“We’re seeing a good response to BFR with our patients, especially those who are coming to us after ACL reconstruction surgery,” she said. “Traditionally, with that rehab, their quads are really weak, and it takes a long time to activate and make them stronger. This device allows us to start the process sooner without adding stress, and speeds up the recovery process.” 

In January 2018, Gavin Aguinaga, a junior at Los Angeles Mission College, tore the ACL on his right leg during a club soccer game. He underwent ACL reconstruction in August and started physical therapy with Stockton a few weeks later. 

“My knee was really weak, and I was surprised by how fast I was able to regain my strength using the BFR treatment,” he said, adding, “After two or three times, I started seeing results. It was easier to work out my leg and build strength without as much pain or soreness.” Henry Mayo physical therapists are certified in BFR rehabilitation, which is offered at the hospital’s Golden Valley and Valencia (inside the Fitness and Health Center) physical therapy clinics. 

The clinics also feature manual therapy techniques, including myofascial decompression, where special cups create a suction to help with pain and inflammation, and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which treats musculoskeletal injuries with specifically designed tools. 

The centers also have anti-gravity treadmills, which use unweighting technology to allow patients to walk and run without pain. Later this year, physical therapists will employ a new motion video analysis program to assist with patient assessment, education and treatment. 

“We offer a wide range of evidence-based physical therapy treatments, using the latest technology, to help our patients recover quickly,” said Stockton. IYH

Visit henrymayo.com/bfr for more information about BFR rehabilitation. 


Listen to Marina Stockton discuss blood flow restricted rehabilitation therapy in Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s podcast series It’s Your Health Radio. Listen at henrymayo.com/iyh or wherever you get your podcasts.