BFR: Application with Bed Rest


In the last two posts, we’ve covered the basics of blood flow restriction, as well as discussed the importance of skeletal muscle in function and wellness. Next, we will piece together some applications of BFR.


1) Bed Rest


In many cases (following surgery, illness, or injury) bed rest is required to prevent further damage or problems, despite our understanding that it can cause significant loss of muscle mass in the young and aging populations (higher in the elderly).


In this case, when weight bearing cannot be tolerated or bedrest is imperative, Takarada et al demonstrated that BFR could be utilized even in the absence of exercise to decrease knee extensor and flexor atrophy, simply by applying a cuff for a standardized time interval (5 min on, 3 minutes off, for 5 repetitions, 2x daily). This was studied in a population with post-surgical ACL reconstructions (3 days – 14 days post-op).


This study actually reported decreases in skeletal muscle atrophy in the quadriceps from 20% to 9%! It seems that this is potentially due to cell swelling and/or tension and increased intermedullary pressure which mimics the weight bearing environment for the skeletal muscle and bones!


Along with prevention of muscle atrophy, there is also research to support BFR’s effects on the cardiovascular system as well (decreased eccentric and left ventricular atrophy). (Loenneke et al, 2012) While there is benefit to BFR application without exercise, ideally, as soon as the patient is able to tolerate exercises in the bed (supine) ideally they would would be added to further encourage improvement.


It has also been my experience that patients who have deconditioned more often have an even more pronounced response to BFR


This is just one use for blood flow restriction, and in future posts we will continue to explore other potential applications.
Stay tuned for more in this series. If you’d like to find out more, or think you could potentially benefit from one-on-one physical therapy in the Daphne area, please feel free to contact us.


Tyler Vaughn
Owner Pathology Apparel
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