Physical Therapists & Cold Compression Therapy
Physical therapists can utilize cold compression therapy techniques in their clinics or as an at-home practice for patients. Benefits range from assisting with recovery, to alleviating pain, and reducing medication.
The demand for physical therapy continues to increase.
On average, physical therapists see between 20-25 patients per day. It’s no secret that PT is a high-demand medical service, helping people recover or prevent injuries. With orthopedic surgeries steadily increasing each year, one can only assume that physical therapy will continue to grow in demand.
This field is projected to increase 21% over the next decade, with a demand for 15,000 new physical therapy jobs each year. Physical therapists, especially those working in private practice, must figure out how to meet the demand.
One way is to help patients recover at home between sessions or to treat multiple patients at one time while in the clinic. An option- sending patients home with a cold compression therapy device to help with recovery between PT sessions.
Benefits of cold compression therapy for those receiving PT treatment.
Cold therapy works by constricting blood vessels which reduces swelling and pain. Other benefits from cryotherapy include reducing the size of bruising because it slows down blood flow to an injured area. Applying ice also prevents tissue damage caused by hypoxia, due to the decrease in the soft tissue’s metabolism.
Studies have shown that the combination of cold therapy and compression therapy recover from surgery or injury much faster. For physical therapy, this can help patients recover between PT sessions. Additional benefits include reducing pain, swelling, and edema. The combination also stimulates blood flow, increasing healing.
This type of treatment can be carried out on any joint including back, knees, ankles, elbows, or wrists. Here are a few additional benefits of this simple treatment:
- Reducing Swelling
- Pain management
- Delivers oxygen to injured area
- Aids in tissue repair
Pneumatic compression therapy benefiting patients in a physical therapy setting.
Pneumatic compression involves a wrap being placed around a joint that is attached to a pump. Then, the pump inflates the wrap to apply pressure to a joint for 10 seconds, before releasing and re-inflating.
While this type of treatment is commonly used in hospital settings, physical therapists are seeing more benefits of utilizing compression therapy inside of a clinic or as an at-home treatment for patients.
Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) overall improves circulation in a region. When treating Complete Decongestive Therapy, pneumatic compression devices can be a great tool. The buildup of lymph in soft tissue causes swelling, which can be reduced by compression.
Cold therapy machines aid in pain and swelling, allowing for productive physical therapy sessions.
As stated above, intermittent pneumatic compression improves overall circulation, however adding cold therapy to the equation adds additional benefits to this type of treatment.
Cryotherapy alleviates pain, while reducing swelling, allowing for a faster recovery. By decreasing pain, PTs can rely less on prescribed narcotics and instead rely on natural means of restoring the body. Cold therapy decreases circulation, which reduces swelling but can also alleviate muscle spasms or cramping. Ice should only be applied in 20 minute increments.
Ice is typically used for inexpensive cold therapy. However, logistically in a physical therapy office, ice can cause additional issues. For one, ice and water are messy and can lead to mold on wraps unless wraps are cleaned each day and laid out flat to dry. Also, access to ice can be difficult without a large ice machine to rely on.
PowerPlay utilizes gel packs instead of ice, allowing physical therapists to freeze the packs in a freezer and then treat patients in a manner without mold, water, or extra messes.
Surgical Recovery is One Way to Utilize Cold Compression Kits.
It’s not uncommon for patients who have undergone a surgery to be required to attend physical therapy. While the PT will work with the patient toward recovery, sometimes sessions can be painful or lead to soreness. However, utilizing cold compression therapy can help with surgical recovery, as well as recovery between physical therapy sessions.
The goal of physical therapy is to help get patients mobile and fully recovered, but, getting patients moving post-surgery is difficult. Between surgical pain and recovery pain, many surgeons will prescribe opioids to manage pain levels. However, with the growing epidemic of opioid abuse, many physical therapists are getting creative with treating pain without additional medication. In fact, in a 2019 study an estimated 10.1 million people ages 12 and older misused opioids within the past year.
One way to combat opioid misuse is utilizing other resources to treat pain. After a PT treatment, cold compression units can be used to promote rest, ice, and compression which are essential elements in physical recovery.
Of course, there are some surgical situations where strong pain medication should be prescribed. But, when it comes to pain management, physical therapists should consider cold therapy. By reducing inflammation and numbing nerve endings, patients can get relief without another medication being added to their post-surgical routine.
PowerPlay provides cold compression wraps that are made for specific joints, allowing for easy use after an orthopedic surgery. Each wrap can be adjusted so that patients are comfortable during this form of recovery. The pain pumps by PowerPlay also allow for three ports meaning you can treat multiple areas on one patient, or treat three patients at one time.
While these cryotherapy products are made to aid in surgical recovery, promote healing between physical therapy sessions, reducing opioid abuse is another positive side effect with this form of treatment.
Benefits of leg compression therapy.
Probably the most common type of compression therapy is leg compression therapy. This is used in several settings. For example, surgeons can utilize certain types of leg therapy to prevent DVT or deep vein thrombosis. However, it can be utilized to treat leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, improve post-surgical healing, and to prevent future injury.
Leg compression therapy increases blood flow to the heart and also in legs- simulating movement or walking. This helps stimulate tissue growth, repairing injuries or preventing future injuries.
For physical therapists with patients complaining about restless leg syndrome, leg compression therapy can help alleviate symptoms. Severe restless leg syndrome is often treated with medication, however compression therapy can help sooth this discomfort without adding another prescription to a patient’s regimen.
Pneumatic compression devices help mimic walking which can help resolve the disorder completely. In this scenario, patients wear the compression sleeves an hour before bed. This increases blood flow as the patient rests.
Leg compression therapy has also been very effective with treating leg ulcers. By improving blood flow, this form of therapy helps alleviate the symptoms of pain, swelling, and itching. Unfortunately, 97% of patients suffering from leg ulcers will get another in the future, and compression therapy is one way to prevent this diagnosis.
Bringing cold compression therapy into your practice.
There are several use cases for physical therapists utilizing cold compression therapy in their practice. Whether it’s helping a patient recover from surgery, or to decrease pain or swelling- this type of treatment is a great alternative to medications that often have undesirable side effects.
There are multiple ways that you can add PowerPlay’s products into your practice. When comparing our products with competitors, PowerPlay is often a very affordable choice that is also dependable for customers. By providing affordable options, it means that PT offices can budget for several different wraps, or patients can purchase directly from us at a reasonable rate.
There is also an option where physical therapists can become PowerPlay distributors and sell our products for less than the price listed on our website. To learn about becoming a distributor, click here.
The only additional device required when using our devices is a freezer in order to ensure the gel packs are ready for use. PowerPlay recommends freezing a pack for an hour before usage. Gel packs are convenient and a way to avoid mold or mildew which is common with ice or water packs.
Compression pumps have three ports allowing PTs to treat multiple patients at one time. This allows for less overhead when purchasing kits.