Objectives: 1. Familiarize the reader to the technique of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training.
2. Discuss the physiologic effects of BFR Training.
3. Identify potential systemic effects of BFR Training.
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training has been reported to have significant benefits on local skeletal muscle growth including increasing local muscle mass, strength, and endurance while exercising with lower resistance. The technique involves applying a pressure cuff to partially occlude blood flow through an extremity while exercising. It is unclear what effects BFR may have on other body systems, such as cardiovascular and pulmonary systems that may impact safe use of the technique. Individuals unable to perform traditional training due to pain or other restrictions, may benefit from the local and systemic effects of BFR training.
The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize the research on systemic effects of blood flow restriction training when combined with exercise intervention.
Design: In this systematic review two literature searches were performed: one in June 2019 and another in September 2019 using MedLine, ScienceDirect, PubMed, Cochrane Reviews and CINAHL Complete. Articles included in this review were analyzed with the CEBM levels of evidence hierarchy and PEDro scale.
Procedures: Each article was reviewed and rated by group consensus.
Results: 20 articles were included in the review. PEDro scores ranged between 4 and 8, and had a level of evidence between 1 and 2. Common systems studied included cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine and musculoskeletal.
Conclusions: BFR training is being utilized more frequently as a physical therapy intervention in combination with strengthening. Although results vary, the majority of studies reviewed reported evidence that BFR training produces some systemic effects on the human body. BFR training may be an effective intervention for patient populations that are unable to perform traditional resistance exercise training.
Bradley Miller– Student Physical Therapist, Misericordia University
Alexander Tirko– Student Physical Therapist, Misericordia University
Olivia Sumeriski– Student Physical Therapist, Misericordia University
Justin Shipe– Student Physical Therapist, Misericordia University
Kelley Moran– Associate Professor Physical Therapy Department, Misericordia University