By Allison R. Weder
“My Mom and I didn’t think I’d dance again. But coming here and using BFR, now I’m back and better than ever!” – Addie Latimer, 12-Year-Old Patient
12-year-old Addison Latimer, or Addie as she’s called, bounces into Advanced PT, fresh from school. She hops on an exercise bike and begins to pedal. You’d never know, just 2 months earlier, a major injury left her unable to walk without crutches. Richelle, Addie’s Mom, shares what happened during what she describes as a goof-off night at dance class: “She did a kick and hyper-extended her left knee. Her kneecap popped out and popped right back in.” But the action shaved off a piece of cartilage, leaving her unable to bend her knee. On December 30th, Addie had surgery. The surgeon had hoped to put the cartilage back in place, but it just wasn’t possible. She’d be placed on a waiting list for donor cartilage and another repair surgery down the road.
Reality began to set in. Addie could barely walk, and she certainly couldn’t do one of her most favorite things in the world: DANCE! The orthopedic surgeon recommended physical therapy to help strengthen Addie’s leg and get her walking again. The Latimers didn’t know what to expect, but they had hope after hearing a friend had gotten back to dance after PT. Addie took the challenge head-on, knowing a physical therapist had the expertise to help her reach her long-term goal: to dance again.
Richelle recalls the first visits were rough, saying “the muscle loss was shocking. She couldn’t lift her leg.” Addie started with traditional therapy techniques. Then, moved on to Blood Flow Restriction Training or BFR. BFR is a rehabilitation process of performing exercises while reducing the blood supply to certain muscles using a cuff, similar to a blood pressure cuff. It rebuilds muscle and restores strength quicker. It’s a technique perfect for post-surgical patients. Richelle read about BFR, checked with her doctor, and decided it would be a good thing for Addie to try.
The BFR cuff on Addie’s right leg helps to rebuild muscle and strength quicker.
Addie would put a BFR cuff around her leg for the first time on a Friday afternoon. She was a little hesitant, saying “it hurt a little bit and then I got used to it and it was fine.” After a tiring session, Addie and her mom went home. Saturday morning, Richelle caught some movement out of the corner of her eye. It was Addie. After one BFR session, Addie had ditched the crutches and was walking across the family room. Richelle couldn’t believe it!
After several more weeks of therapy, fast forward to February 8th. That day, a little over 5 weeks post-surgery, Addie danced in a competition! Addie continues to improve and dance every day, and with a smile says, “I was happy to do PT. They know what they’re doing. It’s not just for old people. It really does help you. It’s cool to come and get better so quickly.”