Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

Bryan G. Vopat, MD; Lisa M. Vopat, MD; Megan M. Bechtold, DPT; Kevin A. Hodge, MD


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020;28(12):e493-e500. 

In This Article


Strength deficits are a common problem after orthopaedic operations, immobilization, and casting, and in our aging cohort. Preventing atrophy and promoting muscle strength and hypertrophy can aid in earlier rehabilitation and prevention of further injury and osteoarthritis in our aging cohort. The use of BFRT can aid in this process by preventing postoperative atrophy and promoting earlier return to functional status. BFRT is a method for muscle development which combines low-load resistance training with blood flow restriction. It has consistently shown stimulation of greater muscle strength and hypertrophy gains compared with low-load resistance training alone. However, it has less anabolic effects compared with high-load resistance training. These characteristics make it useful for select patients including rehabilitation patients and the elderly patients, and as an adjunct to performance training routines. Further research into the long-term adverse effects and the optimal training routines is needed. The potential benefit in these patient subsets and its increasing popularity make it an important topic for orthopaedic surgeons to understand.