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Kids are back in school and it doesn’t matter if you’re signed up for the running club, volleyball team, or high school football, the possibility of injury is always lurking.
Parents watch from the stands and hold their breath when they hear the whistle blow after an injury interruption. Could it be a slight sprain or a season-ending injury? The fear of the unknown can be worrisome not only for the parents, but the player, coach and entire team.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help get you back in the game as quickly as possible.
Baylor Scott & White – Round Rock Physical Therapist Andy McDonnell offers tips about Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) to help treat injuries this school year.
“When someone’s depressed about an injury, I tell them my goal is the same is theirs,” says McDonnell. “I want to get them back playing as soon as they can. I know some of the tricks to do that, and if they work with me, hopefully we can do that a little bit quicker.”
Injured, Now What? Remember RICE
If you’ve been injured in a game, follow these simple RICE guidelines to cut down on swelling and improve healing.
Rest is the first step which simply means immobilizing or protecting your injury. If it’s a foot or ankle injury you may have to use crutches, or you may need a brace for an arm or an elbow. “We’re decreasing activity for that specific injury,” says McDonnell.
Most people may think crutches or a brace can be bothersome, but it can be key to a faster and complete recovery. “I had to use crutches for six weeks,” says McDonnell. “Although it was hard, I used them for the full six weeks, because I wanted to avoid surgery, so that’s why I stayed off of it.” It’s important to rest or protect the injury to avoid increased damage.
With common sports injuries, you can use ice to decrease the swelling and promote healing. If you alternate 20 minutes on with 20 minutes off, this will allow your skin to recover and help the blood flow back to the injured area. Remember to use a washcloth or a towel to avoid skin damage from the ice.
For compression, this usually means using an ACE bandage wrap or compression sleeve to cut down on swelling. You start the furthest away from the injury you can, and wrap until you get to above the injured area. For example, if you injured your elbow, start wrapping from the wrist up. Every two or three hours you can re-wrap, and give yourself a little break. Remember, don’t wrap it too tight because you don’t want to cut off blood flow.
The last step in RICE is elevation or putting your injury above heart level, if possible. If you’ve injured an arm, McDonnell recommends taking it out of the sling for awhile and putting your hand above your heart. This will give you a chance to move your fingers and use gravity to push the swelling out of the area. If it’s an injured leg or knee, you can prop it up using a few pillows while resting on the couch.
“If young athletes follow the steps of RICE we hope to minimize or decrease the swelling or pain as well as speed up the recovery,” says McDonnell. “We always hope to return them to activities as fast as possible.”
For more information, call 512-509-0200 or visit us at roundrock.sw.org.
*This information is intended for general knowledge and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
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