School of Health Professions

Physical Therapy professor to study impact of blood flow restriction training in patients awaiting total knee replacement

Gustavo Almeida

By Kate Hunger 

Physical Therapy Assistant Professor Gustavo Almeida, PT, Ph.D., received a $10,000 grant from the School of Health Professions Pilot Seed Grant Program this spring for a pilot study into the effectiveness of blood flow restriction exercise for patients with knee osteoarthritis before they undergo total knee replacement.

Almeida’s project aims to demonstrate that low-intensity blood flow restriction training, performed with a cuff applied to the upper thigh, is a safe way to improve muscle function and increase activity in patients awaiting total knee replacement for osteoarthritis. 

“They have to have a knee replaced because they are in so much pain, they have lost a lot of function and daily activities are limited,” he said. “If they do this, we may be able to improve their postoperative outcomes faster.” 

Blood flow restriction has been shown to provide results with a less joint load.

“The cool thing about this is that research has shown that with blood flow restriction, patients have improved their muscle strength and lean muscle mass using 20 to 30 percent of their effort compared to 70 to 80 percent,” Almeida said.

Almeida is waiting for the opportunity to recruit participants for the pilot study, which has been delayed because of the postponement of elective surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The School of Health Professions pilot seed grants funds small projects that will yield preliminary data for larger external research grant applications. 

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