A Novel Cryotherapy Compression Wrap in the Management of Acute Ankle Sprains: Potential Use for Special Operators on the Battlefield


Boland M, Mulligan I, Payette J, Serres J, O'Hara R, Maupin G 12(4). 17 - 23 (Journal Article)

Objective: Musculoskeletal injuries related to training and operational missions frequently affect military personnel. A common treatment for these injuries is the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method, which is time consuming and impractical in the field. Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the cryotherapy wrap compared to a traditional treatment in the management of acute ankle sprains. Methods: A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted in a university research laboratory with 13 subjects (9 males and 4 females) with the following physical characteristics: age (yr) 20.6 ± 2.2, height (cm) 177.0 ± 14.3, weight (kg) 76.6 ± 20.6, and body mass index (kg/m2) 24.1 ± 3.7. Participants were instructed to perform PRICE with a traditional ice pack and compression wrap (control group) or with an Arctic Ease® cryotherapy wrap (test group) for 48 hours following enrollment in the study. The Numeric Pain Scale, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure, and ankle/foot volumetric measurement were performed at initial presentation and 24-hour, 48-hour, and 7-day follow-up intervals. Results: While the comparison of the Numeric Pain Scale scores, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure scores, and volumetric changes between groups revealed no statistically significant differences (ρ > 0.01), there was an 86% compliance rate for subjects in the cryotherapy wrap group compared to a 17% compliance rate of subjects in the control group. Conclusions: The cryotherapy wraps performed comparably to ice therapy and therefore may be especially applicable to military personnel required to operate in austere and hostile environments where traditional therapies are unrealistic. Although this pilot study did not demonstrate that the cryotherapy wraps produce statistically superior results, trends emerged in the data suggesting that subject compliance rate may be improved by using an alternative form of cryotherapy compression, which could lead to better management of pain, edema, and functional recovery. Future research should include a larger sample size to verify this claim.

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