RICE – First Aid for Dealing with an Acute Injury

Have you ever witnessed something like this?  Your child twists his/her ankle and falls to the ground? Or your child lands awkwardly and injures his/her knee?  As spring approaches and the weather outside is more inviting, you may find yourself in a situation like this.  Of course, the first thing you should do when you witness an injury is seek a medical professional for advice on how to proceed.  This medical professional can be a doctor, nurse, EMT (emergency medical technician), or someone who works in the field of health and fitness such as a physical therapist or certified personal trainer.  This medical professional will be able to guide you in terms of the severity of the injury and what steps to take next in the injury process.  Whether it is a bee sting, a burn, or any type of serious or acute injury, a medical professional is the best and first option for properly dealing with the situation.

I spoke with Ian Manning, M.S.P.T of Orthocore Physical Therapy about dealing with such an injury. Orthocare Physical Therapy is an orthopedic based practice that treats a variety of musculoskeletal injuries.  According to their mission statement, “we use a mixture of research supported techniques to decrease your pain, increase your strength/flexibility and restore your functional movement.”  In addition, Mr. Manning is certified through the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to treat golf related injuries and to improve golf performance.  Definitely, a fantastic resource in North Kingstown when it comes to dealing with an acute injury.  I asked Ian Manning about RICE – a first aid method recommended once an injury occurs.  Here is an excerpt of our conversation:

So Ian, thanks for taking some time with us.  What exactly does RICE translate to?

So RICE is as simple as Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is designed to help slow the inflammation process that occurs with an injury and limit the swelling in the area with the compression and elevation.

Ok, what is the role of ice?  And, why not use heat on an acute injury?

Ice is done initially within the first 48-72hrs to help calm down that initial inflammation. That is why heat is not recommended.  Heat is recommended for other areas of therapy but not for dealing with an acute injury.

Talk about compression.  How do you know how tight you should compress the area?

Compression is useful but only when done properly. It is important to wrap from distal to proximal. What that means is start wrapping past the injury and end the wrap closer to the hip or shoulder joint (assuming the injury in in an appendage). The reasoning behind that is to move the swelling back closer to circulation.

Ok, why is elevation is important?  Essentially, it is like propping up your leg under a pillow, right?

Elevation also helps with this process. You have to make sure the injury is above the heart. I see too many people elevate a leg but do it while sitting up. That isn’t going to help.

What advice would you give a parent or coach with little to no medical knowledge or background in first aid?

In the case of “non-medical” people trying to discern if it is serious or not I always air on the side of caution. You never know what the injury is. Its better practice to spend the co-pay on the ER to make sure it isn’t serious rather than wait it out.

By using the RICE method of first aid, you can help reduce swelling, pain, and hopefully speed up recovery.  Always consult a medical professional for advice on how to handle an injury.  And, always air on the side of caution if you are unsure how severe an injury is.  North Kingstown has so many great recreational opportunities in the spring. So, be active and if you are present when an injury occurs, refer to the RICE method of first aid.

Contact information for Ian Manning, M.S.P.T.

Orthocore Physical Therapy

7610 Post Road

North Kingstown, RI 02852



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