After a surgical procedure, your medical team may encourage you to utilize cold therapy to help you recover. The use of cold treatments is a proven addition to many recovery plans that may be used in conjunction with other supportive therapeutics. Convenient and easy to use at home, these portable therapy machines are often used to reduce post-surgical pain and allow for a more comfortable recovery period. Let’s look at how cold therapy works and the seven devices we recommend that utilize this innovative and effective therapy.

How Cold Therapy Works

Ice has long been understood to be an effective tool in treating sudden, acute injuries to help reduce swelling and pain. The practice of rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) has become standard when treating injuries, and the use of cold therapies has extended to surgical recovery. The use of therapy machines has integrated the effectiveness of using icy cold water with the convenience of a wrap, cuff or another mechanism to deliver a consistently cold temperature to the affected area. These devices come in different shapes and styles along with related accessories tailored to maximize the health benefits for specific areas of the body. Some of the demonstrated effects of using cold therapies are:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced swelling and inflammation
  • Soothed muscles
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improved immune function
  • Faster metabolism

The 7 Most Popular Machines

1. Breg Polar Care Cube

Perfect for post-operative care as well as for helping with chronic pain and physical therapy, the Breg Polar Care Cube is a compact system that provides 6-8 hours of care with the addition of ice and water. The Breg Polar Care Cube circulates the icy water into the Wrap-On Polar Pads which are wrapped onto the treatment location. These are secured with the included elastic straps so you can be confident the device will stay in place for the duration of the treatment time. This device is simple to use making it easy to see why it is a best seller.

2. Breg Polar Care Wave

A step up from the Breg Polar Care Cube, the Breg Kodiak Wave combines icy therapy treatment with compression pads to bring increased relief to users. This machine includes compression pads with variable controls so users can customize the compression strength as well as the levels of cold for the treatment. Breg offers accessories that are compatible with the device to personalize further the treatments for the knee, shoulder, foot/ankle, back, and hip as well as a universal pad. Another easy-to-use device, the Breg Polar Care Wave works in conjunction with ice and water and ice freeze bags are available for this machine to fit to make cooling it even easier. This device is an excellent addition to surgical recovery plans since it is designed to not only reduce pain but also minimize edema.

3. Breg Polar Care Kodiak

Another of the most popular therapeutic devices is the Breg Polar Care Kodiak. This machine is the only battery-operated device on the market making it convenient and easy to use in any situation. Used with one of Breg’s Intelli-Flo pads as a barrier between the cooling mechanism and the body, the Breg Polar Care Kodiak machine will cool for 6-8 hours with the addition of ice and water. The Kodiak Battery pack powers this machine for 10-14 hours, adding to the portability and usability of the device. This device is an excellent choice for those who don’t want their therapy needs to disrupt their lives since the Breg Polar Care Kodiak can be used at home, at work or in almost any location with the use of the battery pack.

4. Aircast Cryo Cuff IC

The CryoCuff compression wraps are part of the cooling system from Aircast that can be used with Aircast’s motorized Cooler as well as the Aircast Gravity system. The well-insulated system that comes with the Aircast CryoCuff IC ensures that the cuffs, circulating icy water to the covered areas, will stay chilled for hours of relief. The detachable cooler makes the CryoCuff IC system convenient and comfortable. The compression provided by the CryoCuff as well as the levels of cold are both controllable, making this system perfect for all levels of support and therapy needed, from just starting to the completion of therapy. The foot, knee, thigh and should cuffs that are used with this machine come in multiple sizing options to customize the fit and improve therapeutic outcomes. Ideal for rehabbing, the Aircast CryoCuff IC helps to reduce swelling and discomfort in targeted areas.

5. DonJoy Clear3

The DonJoy® IceMan Clear3 w/ Wrap-On Pads is a cooling machine featuring a visible ice and water storage location that helps users keep track of their system’s cooling potential at all times. The Donjoy Clear3 cold therapy cooler and pump system are very compact, making it a highly convenient choice for those who need to use cold therapies at home. DonJoy’s patented recirculation system with dual pumps means that the water’s temperature will stay consistently accurate. This device is also very versatile and works well for almost any injury since the wrap pads and sterile dressing pads can be configured for almost any area and for a user of any size. Following DonJoy’s mission to “keep people moving,” the DonJoy Clear3 is the perfect choice for post-surgical and rehab recovery plans.

6. Donjoy Classic3

The Donjoy Classic3 also utilizes the company’s patented dual circulation system, so users can be sure that the water from the Donjoy Classic3 Cold Therapy Cooler will stay consistently cold and at the temperature they need. This machine works with sterile and non-sterile dressings, making it a good option for those needing cold therapies at home during post-surgical recovery. The large, oversized shoulder wrap works well for most sizes and the large rectangular wrap can assist with lower back cold therapy treatment. Smaller pads can be used for wrist or even foot therapy treatment, making the Donjoy Classic3 highly versatile.

7. AirCast Gravity

This gravity cooling system is highly convenient and easy to use for pressure and cold therapy treatments. The cuff can be easily utilized on wrists, shoulders, knees or other areas of the body that will benefit from Aircast’s pneumatic compression technology combined with icy treatment as it fills with cold water filled from the portable, detachable Aircast Cold Therapy Cooler. The filled Aircast Gravity Cooler System + CryoCuffs provide support for the recovering area while the highly portable device allows for complete mobility for the user once the cuff is detached from the cooler. This targeted device is ideal for at-home surgical recovery and the included Velcro straps help to secure anatomically specific pads easily with minimal outside help. The cuffs are available for knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, hip, elbow, and wrist as well as pediatric sizing. With its controlled cold and adjustable comfort levels, this machine is often used for knee recovery since it can assist with pain and swelling reduction and minimize hemarthrosis.

Effective At-Home Cold Therapy

Many recovery plans call for therapeutics that will decrease pain and enhance healing so medical teams often encourage the use of cold therapy machines that can be used in the comfort of your own home. Finding the best cooling system to use for cold therapies you can complete at home is key to a fast and successful recovery from a recent surgery like total knee replacement, hip replacement, or back, shoulder or ankle repairs. If your doctor has recommended adding cold water therapy to your recovery regimen, picking one that works for your lifestyle can help you get back on your feet faster and feel less pain in the process.

Supply Physical Therapy Can Help

SupplyPT offers a selection of the most popular machines for the at-home care you need. Using these devices, with the support and direction of your medical team, supports your recovery through a decrease in pain and swelling and allows you to return to comfort and strength faster. Our expertise in physical therapy devices can help you find the right machine for your needs and help you get on the road to recovery right from home. Not only can you find the right machine, but you can also choose the best pad, wrap, sterile pads and support accessories to work with the cooling device so that your therapy will be precisely what your body and your recovery require. Don’t leave your rehab and recovery therapy to a no-name brand when the top brands in therapy devices like Aircast, Donjoy and Breg all have proven success in helping people return to health through the use of cold therapies. Put your trust in proven names that can back up their devices with years of experience helping people recover post-surgery with their popular and easy-to-use therapeutic devices.

Additional Research

  • https://physioroom.com/info/hot-and-cold-therapy-explained/
  • https://3riversortho.com/2017/05/16/heat-vs-cold-therapy-work-use/
  • https://www.paragonintegratedmedical.com/how-does-hot-and-cold-therapy-work/

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