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Acute Injury Management

The initial management of your injury, making a diagnosis, care plan and screening for more serious injuries is paramount.

As physiotherapists we are skilled in triaging our patients to maximise their potential, may that be a swift onward medical referral or developing an acute injury management plan.

Many People may be aware of the acronym R.I.C.E or even P.R.I.C.E. Now, to complicate things even more we have P.O.L.I.C.E. What is common to each of these is the initial management of the acute soft tissue phases after injury.

P.O.L.I.C.E, what does it stand for?

Protection

Look after the injured area to avoid further injury. This may include, crutches, bracing, tape or even a simple bandage.

Optimal Loading

Rest after injury maybe be useful in the first 48 hours, however, following on it is accepted that controlled stress to the injured tissue is helpful in the recovery phases. It will also limit the de-conditioning of the tissue and help reduce joint stiffness.

Ice

This cost effective modality may help with swelling and inflammation, however, research is undecided on this. It does seem to have an effect on reducing pain, so applying an ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours, while you are awake, will help to ease your discomfort. Please note that prolonged exposure to ice may not give any further benefit and may cause an ice burn and damage to superficial skin.

Compression

The Idea is to use compressive bandage, tape etc to help limit tissue hemorrhage, however, research is conflicting. The use of supportive bandage can help with the feeling of comfort and “safety”.

Elevation

Using gravity to help reduce swelling can be useful in recovery of the affected tissue by helping reduce the hydrostatic pressure within the blood vessels. Elevating the injured area higher than the heart, for as long as comfortable, seems the most effective.

Another interesting and thoughtful approach is “soft tissues just need peace and love

Any injury should be assessed immediately to ascertain its severity, and provide the appropriate management to ensure a more complete recovery of function.