What Are the Different Types of Tourniquets?

Tourniquets are used to stop the loss of blood from deep wounds in the limbs to save a life. There are three different types of tourniquets that are available: surgical tourniquets, emergency tourniquets, and rehabilitation tourniquets. All of these can be used to help save a life in the event of a medical emergency.


Surgical tourniquets are used in plastic surgeries and orthopedic surgeries to reduce the flow of blood to the surgical site to make the surgery process easier for doctors and easier for patients to recover from since there is minimal blood loss when a surgical tourniquet is used for surgery. Surgical tourniquets are used by the medical profession and everyday individuals would not normally have access to medical grade surgery equipment to use in the event of a medical emergency.  An alternate type of tourniquet would be used by the general public in the event of an accident.  


Emergency tourniquets are cuff-like devices that can be applied by the injured individual themselves before they go into shock or by a first responder to reduce loss of the blood until emergency medical help arrives to transport the victim to a hospital. Emergency tourniquet kits are easy to find online and many first responders keep tourniquet kits in their first responder medical bag just in case they ever need to administer one to someone.  Many local fire departments also sell emergency tourniquet kits and teach public safety classes going over how to use a tourniquet and when to use one.  If you plan to order an emergency tourniquet for your personal First Aid kit, be sure you understand how to use one so that you will be prepared and you’ll be able to act quickly, calmly, and confidently as you work to save a life. Using a tourniquet in an the event of a severe bleeding event can be the difference between life and death.


Rehabilitation tourniquets are used often for blood flow restriction, or BFR, training to aid in building vascular strength. The rehabilitation tourniquets are often called pneumatic tourniquets and can increase the risk of injury if not used correctly.  Many individuals with a background in blood flow restriction training argue that when pneumatic tourniquets are used with the wrong pressure or not in the right location on the body, it can cause more harm than good. If you are interested in using this method of training, be sure to work with someone who specializes in this field to make sure the method is done correctly and in a monitored and healthy environment.  

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