Immediate Treatment of Sports Injuries


Immediate Treatment of Sports Injuries

The part of the body that could be extremely injured in sport is the musculoskeletal system. When these injuries occur the tissues respond in ways that may damage not only the tissue involved in the injury but also the surrounding tissues. The tissues do this by bleeding and swelling. Therefore, every first aid effort should be directed toward achieving this primary goal to reduce bleeding and welling, and inflammation that results from the injury which affect the surrounding tissues. We are going understand the best ways to use the skills achieve the primary goal of first aid.

Immediate Care of Sports Injury (The PRICE Principle)

In the past, first aid providers have focused much attention on RICE or ICER as principles for best immediate care of sports injuries. However, this important principle seemed to have been ignored. That principle is the protection principle. Adding protection to RICE, it will give the PRICE principle. The best way to achieve the goal of first aid is to apply the PRICE principle.

However, PRICE only expanded the reagent by adding P, for protection. Let us now discuss PRICE – Protection; Rest; Ice; Compression and Elevation.

1. Protection

We had discussed that protection is the first thing a first aid provider does to an injured player or athlete. This involves preventing the athlete from moving and at the same time keeping other athletes and hazard away from the injured athlete.

2. Rest

Rest is the next component of the principle. It means immobilizing the injured part of the body by splinting or preventing weight bearing with crutches. This is a very important part of any treatment. It involves resting the athlete from any activity that can cause more pain. The athlete is not allowed to return to active play until he has been cleared by the medical team. Though the amount of time needed for rest may not be the same for all injuries, body parts that incur minor injuries need approximately seventy two (72) hours of rest before rehabilitation, (Prentice, 2006).

Figure 1 illustrates RICE principle after the athlete has been protected.

illustrates RICE principle after the athlete has been protected

3. Ice

This is cold application or therapeutic use of cold called cryotherapy. Application of ice in the first 72 hours after an injury helps to reduce pain and control swelling. Therefore, ice should be used for most conditions involving strains, sprains and contusions.

Ice treatment comes in different forms. We have ice bag, ice message, frozen gel pack, gel cold pack, ice whirl pool, chemical cold pack, and ice water pucket. No matter the type of ice used, a good rule of thumb is to apply a cold pack to a recent injury for a twenty minute (20 minute) period and repeat every one to two (1-2) hours throughout a waking day. Number of days you apply the cold depends on the severity of the injury and site. All cold applications will produce the following responses – cold, pins and needles, dull aching and numbness sensations. So, if the athlete manifests these reactions, do not panic, as they are normal and should be expected.

However, there are some conditions that will make you avoid ice application. They are called contraindications.

Contraindications to Cold Application

Application of ice may be harmful in some situations. The following are some reasons to avoid ice application.

• If the athlete lacks feeling in the injured area, do not apply ice;

• If he is allergic to cold, do not apply ice;

• Do not apply ice in combination with a tight compression wrap;

• Do not apply ice directly over an open wound;

• Do not apply ice directly over the ulnar nerve. This nerve is located at the medial distal end of the humerus, close to the elbow.

Caution: Do not apply ice directly over the personnel nerve at the lateral proximal end of the tibia, close to the knee. The ulnar and peroneal nerves are superficial nerves.

What if you live or work in an area where you have no access to the exotic cold packs, does that mean you should use cold application to help injured persons? No! The absence of exotic cold packs need not deter you from cold application. You can produce your own ice as a first aid provider, crush it and put it in a clean plastic bag you have in your first aid box. There is a consensus among experts this is the most effective way of applying cold to the body. This form of ice is relative cheap. You can also purchase it and put in a cooler before game and practice session.

4. Compression

Compression of an acute injury is as important as ice and elevation, but in some cases even more important. Compression places external pressure on an injury thereby, mechanically reducing bleeding and swelling. It is best achieved by using a commercially available elastic wrap which come in different sizes we mentioned other varieties of bandages that can be used for compression.

It is best you place the ice pack directly against the skin with the elastic wrap or bandage over the pack securing it. Wrap in a closed spiral fashion, starting from the lower end of the limb to the upward end.

The wrap forming the compression should not be extremely tight, so as to allow circulation. You should be able to slip two fingers under the warp when secured or anchored. Regularly check the fingers and toes to make sure there is good circulation.

The compression material can also be used to apply cold treatment, for instance, you can soak the elastic wrap in water and freeze it in a refrigerator. This can provide both compression and cold when applied to an acute injury, (Prentice, 2006). The compression may cause some pain even when properly secured. However, learning that leaving it in place is more beneficial will make you to leave it is place. The compression is very important in controlling bleeding. So, if it is hastily removed because of the pain experienced by the athlete, he may suffer more dangerous consequences. The compression wrap should be left in place for at least 72 hour following acute injury, (Prentice, 2006).

5. Elevation

This is the last in the PRICE principle or reagent but in no way the least. However, it is a very simple procedure and self-explanatory. It involves raising the injured part of the body. When used in combination with ice (cold) and compression, elevation reduces internal bleeding. It helps the veins to drain blood and other body fluids away from the site of injury, and returns them to the body’s circulatory system. It also helps to stop swelling. Therefore, elevate the injured part above the heart as much as possible for the first 72 hours after acute injury. The greater the degree of elevation, the more effective the reduction in swelling. When elevating an injured lower extremity, make sure that the adjacent joints are well supported with padding or pillows. For example, in an ankle sprain, the leg should be placed so that the ankle is virtually straight up in the air with the knee supported.

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