Implementation of Blood Flow Restriction for Injury Rehabilitation in the Athletic Training Setting


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Virginia Tech


Rehabilitation after an injury in athletics is a major concern for athletes and athletic trainers. The athletic trainer is responsible for returning the injured athlete back to participation as fast and safely as possible. Since it is typically unsafe to apply heavy loads, such as weights, to an extremity after an injury, atrophy tends to occur to the injured area. Blood flow restriction is a modality that is fairly new in the United States. Research has shown that blood flow restriction used during low-intensity (20-30% 1RM) loads significantly increases muscular strength and hypertrophy compared to high-intensity loads (>70% 1RM) without blood flow restriction (Pope et al, 2013). The purpose of this project was to document preliminary experiences with blood flow restriction in a collegiate athletics setting and disseminate practical information about blood flow restriction to practicing athletic trainers across the United States. Blood flow restriction has been shown to be a safe and effective resource for clinicians when helping a patient rehabilitate from surgery and return to participation faster, although minimal clinical trial evidence is available. When blood flow restriction was incorporated as a treatment modality within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Virginia Tech, positive effects on injury rehabilitation and patient compliance were observed. Further research on blood flow restriction during injury rehabilitation is needed in order to help practicing athletic trainers make the best evidence-based decisions when utilizing this modality with their patient.