If you missed the state of cryotherapy today and the acute ankle sprain scenario results in part one or the subacute ankle sprain scenario in part two, catch up before continuing!

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve explored the minds of today’s top athletic trainers and their methods on utilizing cryotherapy within their practice. Hawkins and Hawkins completed this in-depth study with the goal of establishing the most popular cryotherapy methods used by collegiate athletic trainers as well as compare the use of cryotherapy to any available research.

After looking at the results of the study, we can finally determine what we know about cryotherapy.

We know that there is not enough cryotherapy research.

  • When comparing the cryotherapy methods of choice, there was a great deal of variety in the responses. Hawkins and Hawkins (2016) are attributing this to a great lack of available research. “It was clear that personal preference guided these options; some have more evidence for their use than others. Greater efforts need to be made to quantify the outcomes associated with these approaches, particularly in the case of manual therapy, which seems to be taking the place of therapeutic modalities in many clinical settings.”

We know that we need a strong standard.

  • Comparing cryotherapy methods was a challenge for these researchers because of the diversity in responses. While this proves a lack in research, it also proves that there is a strong need for best practice recommendations and treatment guidelines. But where will they come from? “Data to substantiate the use of ice and create treatment guidelines exists in the clinics where athletic trainers practice… the data that exists just needs to be gathered, quantified, and disseminated, and greater efforts must be made to do this” (Hawkins, Hawkins 2016).

We know that we need to know what else we don’t know.

  • It is clear that there are shortcomings of research and guidelines in the use of cryotherapy, but that may not be all we’re missing. Hawkins and Hawkins (2016) suggested taking a further look at and establishing:
    • Therapeutic goal and how to best accomplish it
    • Treatment time
    • Use of barrier
    • How the modality is held in place

… are there any other factors that are involved in the use and efficacy of cryotherapy that also need to be observed? Comment below and share this article with colleagues to let us know how what else we don’t know.

Hawkins, Hawkins 2016. Clinical applications of cryotherapy among sports physical therapists. Int J Sports Phys Ther. Feb;11(1):141-8.

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