Injury Management: POLICE Your Injury, Not RICE!

Injury Management

Oh no, you stepped off a curb and tweaked your ankle. Or you have fallen down and landed on your elbow while snowboarding?

You may have heard the common strategy for injury management by using the acronym RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. At EastWest Physiotherapy Burnaby, we tell our patients to update this acronym to POLICE.

Acute Injury Management Using POLICE

Protection

Our Physiotherapists will recommend ‘Protection’ of the injured structures. How to protect the injured areas will depend on the injury location. By protecting and not reaggravating the injured areas, we can speed up the healing process.  In our Burnaby Physiotherapy practice, we recommend three main ways to protect your injuries.

Taping

Supportive taping can help support injured structures and prevent more strain. Physiotherapists may decide to use firm (Leukotape) or elastic/flexible (Kinesiotape) tape. This can depend on whether you want to limit or help certain movements.

Bracing

Besides taping, your Physiotherapist may recommend wearing a brace for extra support. This is a good idea if you cannot avoid using it or you may encounter situations that can stress the injured structures.

Positioning

Your Physiotherapist can recommend certain positions that place little or no stress on the injury sites. This will allow injuries time to heal.

Optimal Loading

After an acute injury, Registered Physiotherapist will recommend that you perform certain exercises. The exercises help kick start the recovery process. You do not want to completely rest the injury. 

Plenty of research evidence shows that bed rest and immobilization can lead to a significant decrease in muscle mass within 10 days. Furthermore, 40% of muscle strength loss can occur within the first week. Another study looking into bone density found that immobilization decreased 1% in bone density within 1 week.

Unless there is a fracture, gradual movement and loading of the injured areas are important. Optimal loading is a term used to provide appropriate stress to the injury site. This can help break down scar tissue, improve mobility and strength and decrease pain. 

These exercises will be dependent on the severity of the injury and guided by your Physiotherapist in Burnaby, BC.

The degree of Optimal Loading changes as your condition improves. More stressful exercises will be prescribed and added to progressively improve your recovery.

Ice

Ice helps to decrease the amount of inflammation and swelling after an acute injury. It can also help to decrease pain and discomfort. It is a very simple and effective technique that is crucial for injury management. Ice packs, cryo cuffs, ice tubs are a few options that can be used. 

Depending on the injured area, you may want to ice a few times a day. Larger body parts like the shoulder, knees, and hip can tolerate icing for 10-15 minutes. For smaller areas like the hands and toes, you may reduce the time to your comfort level.

Ice

Compression

Compression therapy is crucial for acute injury management. Compression bandages and sleeves can provide firm support to help reduce swelling and edema. 

When there are swelling and edema, blood flow is reduced and recovery time is increased. Joints can become stiffer and muscle activation can become inhibited.

Compression

Compression can be adjusted with compression bandages. You can customize the amount of compression that is comfortable for you. 

This option is best if you are resting and not using the injured area.  With movement, the compression bandage can slip and loosen up.

Compression Sleeves

Compression sleeves are recommended if you need to move around and are less likely to shift. They are like socks, but with added compressive qualities that you slip on to injured body parts. Common areas that use compression sleeves are the calves, ankles, knees, and elbows.

The research combining Ice and compression alone is powerful. It has been shown to effectively reduce blood flow and swelling. Functionally, using ice and compression together is better than using ice or compression alone.

Elevation

The last part of optimal injury management is Elevation. Elevating the injured body part above the level of the heart can help promote the drainage of swelling back to the circulatory system. 

When you are upright, gravity makes it challenging for swelling to be pumped back toward the heart. You can assist in the removal of inflammatory factors by Elevation.

Elevation

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