Whole-body cryotherapy has seen a recent surge in popularity with athletes, patients with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and even people seeking to lose weight or reduce stress. The practice started in Japan in the 1970s, became popular in Poland, and has since spread to other parts of the world.
Much like localized cryotherapy, exposure to cold in a cryochamber triggers the body’s anti-inflammatory response to help reduce pain and swelling. However, instead of applying cold only to the injury site, the entire body is exposed to temperatures well below the freezing point. Because the cold is so extreme, patients only stay in the chamber a few minutes at a time and protective gear is required to protect extremities from frostbite.
Why the Pros Prefer Localized Cryotherapy
Although whole-body cryotherapy has undisputed benefits, localized cryotherapy presents some distinct advantages if you are recovering from surgery or an injury. Some of the factors the pros consider when deciding between whole-body and localized therapy include:
- Safety - Localized cryotherapy presents minimal risk to skin or other tissues. Because you are able to control the temperature of therapeutic cold and the amount of time it is applied, there is limited to no risk of frostbite or any other type of skin damage.
- Comfort - Many patients are simply not comfortable standing in a freezing chamber in their bathing suit. The experience of a whole-body cryotherapy chamber, although invigorating, is not pleasant for everybody. With localized cryotherapy, the patient can sit comfortably while the machine does all the work.
- Efficacy - Many health benefits have been reported for patients who undergo whole-body cryotherapy, but when it comes to the treatment of injuries and post-surgical recovery, localized cryotherapy is more effective because of the addition of active compression. Therapeutic cold is applied for longer and is able to penetrate deeper into the damaged tissues to help stimulate healing and repair.
- Cost - Localized cryotherapy is much less expensive to administer than the whole-body alternative. Many insurance companies also do not cover whole-body cryotherapy, so patients have to pay for the entire expense.
- Practical application - The application of localized cryotherapy requires only a compact portable system and access to ice for the reservoir. A whole-body cryochamber is not portable, takes up much more space in a clinic, and requires the purchase of nitrogen. Practically speaking, localized cryotherapy is much easier to administer. In fact, patients can even rent equipment to use at home during injury recovery.
All patients and healthcare providers have different preferences for recovery from surgery or an injury, but most athletic trainers and physical therapists prefer the portability, convenience, and proven efficacy of a localized cryotherapy system. The addition of active compression makes localized cryotherapy even more effective and helps accelerate healing more quickly than with cold alone.
Game Ready is widely used by doctors and trainers to help patients quickly recover from injuries and surgery. Whether they are trying to help an athlete heal from knee surgery in time to participate in the Olympics or keep an NBA player at the top of his game without surgical intervention, healthcare professionals choose Game Ready because it works. If you want to learn more about why the pros prefer localized cryotherapy, check out these Game Ready case studies for real examples of our system in action.