Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Human Performance and Health Education

First Advisor

Julie Raedy

Second Advisor

Nicholas Hanson


Blood flow restriction therapy, also known as BFR, is a treatment that is gaining popularity in the realm of rehabilitation and personal fitness. Commonly, BFR is used along with resistance training in physical therapy clinics for patients post-surgically, post injury, and for general muscle weakness (Congetti et al., 2022). BFR utilizes occlusion and pooling of blood, along with triggering the physiological processes of resistance training to decrease the hypertrophic threshold of a muscle (Congetti et al., 2022). This literature review aims to investigate the effects of BFR on patients in physical therapy after surgery by examining the history and origin of BFR along with current treatments. This review covers one study regarding distal-radius fracture repair surgery, and three studies regarding ACL reconstruction surgery. Each study examined obtained measures of recovery markers specific to each surgery. The study regarding the effects of BFR on distal radius repair measured pain at rest and with activity, patient reported questionnaire answers, range of motion, and grip strength (Cancio et al., 2019). The ACL reconstruction studies collected various measurements regarding weight bearing ability, strength, range of motion, and management of swelling (Massachusetts General Hospital, 2021). These studies highlight the wide range of treatments that BFR can be used to treat in both the upper and lower extremities. This review also examines the benefits and risks associated with BFR and examines potential side effects such as numbness, dizziness, and rhabdomyolysis. Despite the overall positive effects on musculoskeletal rehabilitation, controversy exists regarding the safety and effectiveness of BFR. Overall, this literature review examines the complexities regarding BFR, with the overall conclusion that research should be continued.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access