University of Washington Researcher to Learn More About Blood Flow Restriction in ACL Reconstruction Recovery

Cristine Agresta, MPT, PhD, will use the Magistro Family Foundation Research Grant to learn more about ACLR recovery. 

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries can happen during any activity that puts stress on the knee – such as sports that have sudden stops or pivots. An ACL injury can abruptly end athletic careers and recreational activities. Today, ACL Reconstruction (ACLR) is common in sports medicine. It’s estimated that 200,000 surgeries take place in the U.S. each year. Although ACLR is typically an outpatient procedure, patients may need to wait as long as a year (or longer) before returning to sports. Some athletes never return to pre-injury function. Despite how common it is, much remains to be learned about ACLR rehab.

Researcher Cristine Agresta, MPT, PhD, hopes to improve outcomes in ACLR. Agresta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. She will use the 2019 Magistro Family Foundation Research Grant to learn more about how blood flow restriction (BFR) influences restoration of muscle strength and functional movement.

“I’d like to identify early interventions that we can use with patients post ACLR to enhance and accelerate their full return to function,” said Agresta. “Identification of effective early interventions that restore quadriceps strength could positively impact functional outcomes for individuals following ALCR, particularly athletes, and help clinicians re-focus initial post-op management.”

BFR training has shown promise. By increasing strength without requiring heavy weights, BFR could help patients avoid injuring a newly repaired knee. Agresta hopes that more research could also help clinicians better apply BFR to other patient populations – such as those with fractures or repetitive stress injuries.

Agresta is excited about the potential that new technologies have for transforming the future of physical therapy practice. However, she cautions that more research is needed to support their claims. “My advice to fellow and early researchers is to continue to do your due diligence with regard to the efficacy of emerging technologies and clinical tools,” says Agresta.

The Magistro Family Endowment Fund was established by Charles Magistro and his family to support the investigation of innovative therapeutic interventions within the practice of rehabilitation. In addition to his professional leadership, Magistro was a founder and the first chairman of FPTR.

Select Foundation Grants and Scholarships Awarded

Cristine Agresta, MPT, PhD, University of Washington: Agresta was awarded the $100,000 Magistro Family Foundation Research Grant. Her project is titled, “The Effectiveness of Blood Flow Restriction to Increase Function Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” She will assess the effectiveness of personalized blood flow restriction against current standard rehabilitation procedures after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. This grant is funded by the Magistro Endowment Fund and Legacy Research Fund.