A new acronym for treating trauma!
Acute sprains, muscle strains and contusions all happen suddenly. Many acronyms have been created to help us remember the proper treatment techniques. ICE became RICE, then PRICE and finally, in 2012, Bleakley introduced POLICE. But is this acronym complete? The newest version is: “The police can.”
Treating acute injury: POLICE-CAN
The first step is to protect (P) the structure by reducing stressors and avoiding walking, placing weight on the affected limb or contracting the injured muscle. Apply ice (I) to reduce bleeding, elevate (E) the leg and apply tape or a compression bandage (C) to minimize swelling. These are all short-term therapeutic treatments. The degree of the sprain or strain, however, will determine how long it will take before you can return to your activities. Progressive optimal loading (OL), followed by a gradual increase in your usual activities will stimulate your tissues to heal properly while avoiding increased pain and swelling.
Increasing tissues’ metabolism can also optimize healing. On the third day after the injury, you can perform cardiovascular activity (CA) that does not place stress on the affected tissues. Specifically, you can perform painless cardiovascular exercise for 20 minutes, up to 2 times a day. Optimizing healing also means not inhibiting your body’s intrinsic healing process. For this reason, it is essential to avoid using either over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications (N).
P = Protection (be careful not to cause pain during the first few days)
O L = Optimal Loading (carefully quantify mechanical stress by quickly incorporating mechanical loading and movement that does not cause pain)
I = Ice (apply an ice pack for 15 minutes every 1 to 2 hours during the first 2 to 3 days)
C = Compression (apply an elastic bandage or, ideally, compression tape to reduce the initial swelling)
E = Elevation (raise the affected limb as much as possible so that it is higher than the heart)
C A = Cardiovascular Activity (on the third day, increase the blood flow and metabolism in damaged tissues to speed up the healing process)
N = No Anti-Inflammatory medications (avoid anti-inflammatory medications as they slow down the healing process of damaged tissue)
Treating trauma no longer means following rigid protocols that dictated a prolonged rest and set a specific date for getting back into your sport. In 2017, we listen to patients, respond to their symptoms, progress according to how they respond to mechanical stress and, above all, we support the tissues’ natural adaptation/healing process rather than inhibiting it.
We wish you a successful recovery!