Maintaining a successful physical therapy practice requires staying on top of the latest trends and technological advancements. Patients are more savvy than ever, and they know they have options when choosing a physical therapist. Demonstrating that you seek out the types of equipment that produce effective results may help you retain existing patients and attract new ones.
One of the emerging trends in physical therapy equipment is the use of rapid contrast therapy systems that offer multiple types of treatment methods in a single device.
How Multi-Modal Treatment Systems Benefit Your Practice
Multi-modality systems may offer rapid contrast therapy and other types of treatment: cold therapy, heat therapy, and intermittent compression. Having all of these functions in one system allows you to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions with a single device.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
The application of therapeutic cold helps control pain and inflammation in multiple ways. As blood vessels constrict in response to cryotherapy, the flow of blood and other fluids slows down and swelling is reduced. Therapeutic cold can also reduce the incidence of painful muscle spasms that occur from trauma. In addition to addressing the inflammatory response, cryotherapy is an excellent alternative or supplement to narcotic pain medications.
Benefits of Thermotherapy
Heat therapy has the opposite effect of cold therapy in terms of blood flow. When heat is applied to the body, the blood vessels dilate and increase circulation, which supports the lymphatic system and contributes to the healing process by bringing more oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissues. Patients also tend to enjoy heat therapy because it relieves muscle stiffness and helps reduce pain.
Benefits of Rapid Contrast Therapy
Rapid contrast therapy combines the benefits of cryotherapy and thermotherapy by alternately dilating and constricting blood vessels. The dilation that occurs with the application of heat brings valuable blood and nutrients to the injury site. Therapeutic cold helps relieve pain by decreasing nerve sensitivity and also helps slow down cell death.
Benefits of Intermittent Compression Therapy
The primary benefit of intermittent pneumatic compression is the removal of excess fluid through a pumping action that mimics the body’s natural muscle contractions. At the same time, oxygenated blood is circulated to the area to promote healing at the cellular level. The compression is delivered through body-conforming wraps that provide consistent contact to improve the delivery of therapeutic heat, cold, or contrast therapy.
Benefits of an All-in-One System
Having the ability to deliver all of these benefits in a single system offers many advantages to both patients and practitioners. Therapeutic heat and cold are delivered through wraps that do not require the patient to submerge themselves in messy tubs during treatment. Physical therapists benefit from a compact system that can treat two patients simultaneously for maximum efficiency.
How an Integrated System Improves Treatment of Common Injuries
Having a system that delivers multiple types of treatments allows you to address some of the most common injuries, such as:
- Sprains and strains
- Post-surgical recovery
- Lower back pain
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Tendinitis and bursitis
Cold can be used to treat acute injuries and for post-surgical recovery while the body is still in active stages of inflammation. Heat therapy and contrast therapy can be used after the initial inflammatory response (caused by an injury or surgery) begins to decrease. Intermittent compression therapy can be combined with cryotherapy, at different amounts of compression. Heat therapy can be applied with the lowest level of compression or no compression at all.
For more information about which type of physical therapy equipment is most effective for various injuries, download our free Comparison Guide of Rehab Cold and Compression Systems.