Cooling Efficiency of 4 Common Cryotherapeutic Agents

Kennet, Jane, Hardaker, Natalie, Hobbs, Sarah Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1552-8647 and Selfe, James (2007) Cooling Efficiency of 4 Common Cryotherapeutic Agents. Journal of Athletic Training, 42 (3). pp. 343-348. ISSN 1062-6050

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Context: Cryotherapy is the application of cold as a treatment. It is widely used and accepted as beneficial in early management of soft tissue injury. However, the most efficient cryotherapeutic agent remains unknown.

Objective: To compare 4 common cryotherapeutic agents including crushed ice (CI), gel pack (GP), frozen peas (FP), and ice-water immersion (WI) and to determine which agent provided the greatest cooling efficiency after a 20-minute application.

Design: Repeated-measures design.

Setting: University physiology laboratory.

Patients or Other Participants: Nine healthy volunteers participated (5 males, 4 females; age = 24.0 ± 4.6 years, height = 1.73 ± 0.24 m, mass = 79.9 ± 24.1 kg).

Intervention(s): The CI, GP, FP, and WI were applied to the right ankle for 20 minutes. Participants were required to attend 1 measurement session for each agent.

Main Outcome Measure(s): We recorded skin surface temperature of the right ankle at a sampling rate of 1 image/min, using a thermal imaging camera during a 30-minute rewarming period.

Results: Application of CI produced a significantly greater reduction in skin surface temperature (19.56 ± 3.78°C) than GP (13.19 ± 5.07°C) and FP (14.59 ± 4.22°C) ( P < .001). The CI and WI demonstrated significantly ( P < .001) greater cooling efficiency than GP and FP.

Conclusions: The CI and WI had the greatest cooling efficiency and sustained decreased skin surface temperatures postapplication, indicating these agents are potentially the most clinically beneficial.

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