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From NFL to Bespoke Rehabilitation: Aaron Borgmann’s Expertise on Reducing Rehab Time

Aaron Borgmann, leading Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer in the US, joins Tom Atkinson of Hytro BFR to talk about working in the NFL, translating those practices to his own rehab business, and how BFR has played a game-changing part in his treatment of athletes and patients.

Aaron, the founder of Borgmann Rehab Solutions, accrued his extensive knowledge and experience in high-performance coaching from spending over 10 years as a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer in the NFL with teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and St Louis Rams. After dedicating his time to rehabilitating professional athletes to enable their return to play, he subsequently founded his practice working with elite athletes across a wide spectrum of sports such as NFL, MLB, MLS, WTA and WUSA, as well as non-professional athletes and active individuals

 

After initially considering a career in baseball, internships with the St Louis Rams opened Aaron’s eyes to an array of injuries, higher acuity, and more trauma with pressure to return athletes to play within tight timeframes. Aaron shared: “The challenge of football was more appealing to me, we had just five days to get people back playing again. These athletes are modern-day gladiators, they beat themselves up and it was our job to put them back on the field as quickly and as safely as possible. Not only for the team’s benefit but for their benefit too, because if they look better, we look better and then the team looks better.”

 

Those formative years spent working within franchise teams shaped Aaron’s current philosophy and approach to athletic training. Building his initial experiences within a team environment, where the staff-to-athlete ratio is low, demanded efficiency teamed with the highest service level.

 

Since working within his clinical setting, Aaron continues that quality of service: “When I left the League I decided I wanted to take care of people with the highest of personal service. My focus isn’t on a volume of clients but instead on spending more time with people so I can apply a higher level of care, offering longer one-on-one services and ultimately a better product.”

 

Working predominantly now with more varied client population, Aaron leads individuals from a wide variety of sporting areas who are starting from a zero base with the aim of returning to sport-specific coaching and training. Aaron shared: “Every athlete has a different set of needs, but if you’re treating them you have to focus on getting the fundamentals right first – squatting, hinging, deadlifting, etc. If they can’t do those basics well then the sports-specificity programming must wait.”

“I don’t ever worry if somebody will play sport again. I worry about whether they can fire their quads correctly, squat correctly, utilise their glutes or are they strong enough, things like that. And then when I put all those steps together, the sport takes care of itself.”

 

 

Blood Flow Restriction has been used much more widely in the US than in the UK in the last decade or so with NFL players bringing it to the forefront as part of his quick and efficient rehab in 2014. Many professionals went on to become certified practitioners in administering BFR, and Aaron recalls the learning that took place to maximise the benefits of BFR: “It was a new concept, so we had to learn how to use it to the best of our advantage. From a post-surgical, rehab, or recovery standpoint, it helped us to cut the timeframes to get people returning to sport. So, in my previous role, it was an invaluable tool in that regard, taking weeks or months off somebody’s recovery depending on their injury and if they had undertaken surgery.”

 

Within the NFL, and many major league sports, this benefit was seen as a huge game changer. In addition to this, the US market recognised the simplicity that BFR offered by enabling athletes to perform tasks via BFR that were otherwise ruled out of their rehabilitation due to load bearing or intensity.

Aaron commented: “One of the great things about BFR is the fact that I can take an athlete, or a non-athlete, who cannot perform a task because they’re not allowed to have a load applied due to their surgery or injury and utilise BFR to enable them to perform that said thing. For example, take a post-surgical patient with an Achilles repair who is not allowed to load their Achilles with any amount of weight, you can put Blood Flow Restriction on them, and they can do calf raises from week three now, as opposed to previously in week six.”

 

In addition to this, like many of his peers, he understands that the timesaving and the broadening of options that BFR offers someone in rehab not only enables them to progress their physical rehabilitation more quickly but also has a significant impact on their mental well-being as they work towards their goals faster. Aaron added: “We can’t beat physiology, but with BFR we can definitely improve it.”

 

A positive outlook and the ability to put in the effort is what sets apart great and good athletes according to Aaron: “You have got to put forth the effort, be open-minded to trying new things and willing to go through some discomfort as part of the recovery process. Listening to the therapist, and equally, I have to listen to the athlete or patient – it has to be an exchange.”

The recovery process can be gruelling and often requires the athlete to go through difficult times. For those within a team sport environment, the support staff around the player and their peers, who may also be going through a rehab process, can provide the morale needed to keep focusing on that return to play goal. Aaron shares that with athletes in individual sports, it can be different: “You see those playing individual sports who are super intense, motivated people because they got there by themselves and are used to pushing themselves. But then for some, when they get hurt, they struggle as they have to go through the process with a lot less people around them offering that emotional support than those in a team sport for example.”

 

Athlete buy-in is an important contributing factor to recovery success according to Aaron: “I may be offering a tool or method that is known to be one hundred percent factual and works a thousand percent of the time, but if that athlete doesn’t buy into what I’m selling, and I’m not making sure that they understand the process, then it’s not going to work.”

 

Ensuring the end user understands the benefits of BFR boosts buy-in and the effectiveness of the method. This is why Hytro not only offers demonstrations to teams and clubs but also schedules launch days with research subjects as standard practice in all their research activity. This understanding of BFR, and in particular Hytro BFR wearables, enables the athlete or patient to safely utilise BFR with or without supervision and with full awareness of its impact on the body.

 

For coaches or therapists looking to implement BFR with athletes or clients, it is recommended that they utilise it for themselves first. Aaron agreed stating: “I think it’s important that everybody experiences BFR to enable them to practice what they preach and understand what they will be putting their patients through, what they will be experiencing. It must be done correctly, with education and support from good sources such as Hytro.”

 

Read more about how Pro Sport partners are using Hytro BFR. If you would like to utilise the benefits of Hytro BFR at your club get in touch with the team via the button below.

 

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