Following injury, particularly a sports injury, first aid will contribute most to a rapid and successful healing process. The P.R.I.C.E protocol principles are the go-to method for first aiders and qualified sports therapists. Qualified sports therapist, and member of the Sports Therapy Organisation, Qasim Ali of MCR Therapy states, “I teach this method to all my patients with sports injuries, so that they don’t have to come and see me again!”
Protect the site of injury by limiting or eliminating weight-bearing movements or activities and, if possible, immobilise the area. Using crutches, canes, hiking sticks, or walking sticks can help limit weight-bearing movements. Slings, splints, braces or straps may be used to immobilise areas of the body.
If carried out properly, protection will limit exacerbation of the injury and immobilisation will further help to contain the damage. Rest enables the bodies natural healing process to takeover and help return the injured area to full function.
Ice refers to the use of any form of cryotherapy in the treatment of acute sports injuries. The most common form of cryotherapy is the humble ice pack. Ice helps to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain. Cryotherapy should be carried for 20 minutes, every 1 to 2 hours.
Following hourly or two-hourly cyclical treatments of cryotherapy, a compression wrap should be applied to the affected area. While purpose specific compression wraps are available on the market, an elastic bandage will also suffice. The compression wrap should be applied with a moderate amount of tension. Compression helps to reduce swelling and offers support.
Elevation aims to reduce the amount of fluid pooling in injured areas of the body’s extremities. It is thought that this helps reduce swelling and may help decrease recovery time.