Cryotherapy for athletes is a well known and widely accepted treatment method. Virtually everyathlete and trainer is familiar with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy, and the good trainers seek out and embrace new technologies that improve upon this time-tested protocol.
Other types of patients might be generally aware of cryotherapy and its benefits, but chances are, most have not been exposed to cryotherapy machines, cryotherapy chambers, or ice baths.
Cryotherapy for Athletes vs. Other Patients
Of course, the principles behind cryotherapy are the same no matter who is receiving the treatment, but there are some distinct differences between athletes and other types of patients when it comes to administering cold therapy:
- Injury prevalence - It’s not surprising that athletes incur more injuries than most other types of occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that athletes typically suffer more than 2,000 injuries per 10,000 workers, which is more than two times higher than most other occupations. Every day that they get on the field to practice or perform in a game, the risk of injury is present. Athletes are aware of and accept this risk, and because most of them experience an injury during their careers, they know the typical treatment protocols.
- Injury location - Athletic injuries tend to happen in similar locations throughout the body: knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, and groins. Of course, each sport has different types of common injuries, but in general, trainers can expect to regularly treat these areas. Other types of patients can incur injuries in these areas as well, but injury location is less predictable across the population.
- Injury prevention - Unlike other patients, athletes can use cryotherapy for injury prevention. For example, applying therapeutic cold after a particularly strenuous practice or game can help prevent inflammation that can lead to more serious injuries. Cryotherapy for athletes can also be used to reduce the pain and swelling that comes with overuse injuries.
- Patient compliance - Because athletes understand the risks of injury, and because they are more likely to experience injuries throughout their careers, athletes are generally more open to receiving cryotherapy treatment. They are more likely to understand the benefits of using cryotherapy after an injury and may be more likely to comply because they know it will help them get back in the game faster.
Cryotherapy for athletes can take many forms, including traditional ice packs, ice baths, cryotherapy chambers, and cryotherapy machines. Even though athletes are generally more accepting of cryotherapy than other types of patients, compliance can still be an issue when the treatment is uncomfortable, as in the case of an ice bath. Athletic trainers can improve compliance by using cryotherapy machines that deliver localized cold therapy without the inconvenience of getting wet or making the entire body cold.
Both trainers and athletes appreciate cryotherapy machines for the convenience they offer. Simply choose the treatment settings, fill the ice reservoir, apply the wrap to the injured area, and press play. The patient doesn’t have to hold an ice pack and trainers can be sure that there is no risk of cold injury because the machine controls the temperature and treatment duration.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting a cryotherapy machine for your athletic team, get in touch with Game Ready today.