In collaboration with Tomi Johnson and Domonique Herrin, hand therapists working in a MultiCare rehabilitation clinic, we sought to answer the question: In adults with upper extremity and cervical spine orthopedic and peripheral nerve conditions, does myofascial release (MFR) lead to functional outcomes (such as decreased pain or disability, or increased range of motion etc.), compared to therapeutic exercises, other manual therapeutic techniques, and/or modalities? Twenty-three research articles, systematic reviews and meta-analyses were included in our evaluation of the research. Based on our findings, moderate evidence exists to support the use of MFR in the upper extremity and its effectiveness in decreasing pain and disability, and increasing passive range of motion (PROM), strength, posture, quality of life (QoL), and overall function. We recommend that further research be conducted on the effectiveness of myofascial release within the scope of occupational therapy to determine the effects of myofascial release related to the upper extremity.

An informational binder that contained our critically appraised topic (CAT) table with summaries and copies of each article in the CAT was created as a future resource for our collaborating practitioners. Additionally, an inservice presentation was created to share the research findings with physical therapists and physicians who work alongside our collaborators. A pre/post inservice survey was created to monitor the effectiveness of these resources. Attendees reported a 62% increase in knowledge regarding current research investigating the efficacy of myofascial release following the presentation. It is recommended that future critical appraisals on this topic include studies examining the lower extremity due to the perceived generalizability of the fascial system from one region of the body to another, or studies involving self-myofascial release (e.g. patient-administered, foam rolling, etc.) that have become increasingly popular methods of implementation within the literature.

Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


University of Puget Sound

Project Chairperson

Sheryl Zylstra, DOT, MS, OTR/L

Publication Date



Capstone Project





Degree Program

Occupational Therapy

Degree Level

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound