Active Cold Compression vs Passive Cold Compression Cold Therapy Units
For many, Cold Therapy is an important part of recovering from surgery or injury. In fact, many of us are familiar with the R.I.C.E. Method for promoting healthy healing following surgery or some sort of trauma. Short for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, RICE is a trusted method used by many to reduce recovery time.
Historically, when following the Ice and Compression portion of RICE, one might have two separate methods for practicing the two. For example, wrapping an ice pack around your ankle and securing with an ace bandage. While this will work, there are simpler and more efficient ways to ice and compress an area of the body: enter the Cold Therapy Machine.
A Cold Therapy Machine is a device you fill with ice and water. Most are motorized and have a pad to attach to the machine that you then apply to your body. Once the Cold Therapy Unit is turned on, the ice cold water will circulate through the pad attachment, delivering targeted cold therapy to the area.
While the cold water in the cold therapy pad or wrap is fulfilling the Ice in RICE, it is also typically providing at least some level of Compression. As the pad fills up with water, it will naturally grow and tighten around the area. This can be somewhat manipulated depending on how tight you wrap the pad as well. This type of ‘secondary’ compression is what is known as Passive Compression. Almost all Cold Therapy Units will provide some level of passive compression. However, there are also Cold Therapy Units that also offer Active Compression which typically is delivered intermittently.
Depending on your specific situation or injury, will depend on whether you choose a cold therapy unit with or without active compression. Before we dive into the different cold compression units on the market, let’s get a better understanding of the benefits cold compression therapy offers.
Benefits of Cold Compression Therapy
As mentioned, ice and compression are two very important steps in the RICE method to aid in a fast and effective recovery from injury or surgery. The cold therapy provided helps to numb the area and shrink blood vessels, while the compression helps to decrease swelling and promote lymphatic drainage. Studies have actually shown that those who apply both cold therapy and compression therapy at the same time to the injury site, typically heal faster than those who use just one at a time.
What is Active Compression?
Active cold compression is a method that moves the swelling from the injury site. White blood cells, lymphatic fluid and red blood cells are ushered to and from the area to reduce swelling and increase range of motion.
A Cold Therapy Machine that also offers compression typically will have intermittent compression with continuous cold therapy. Having an element of intermittent compression helps to mimic your body’s naturally occurring muscle contractions to pump the swelling out and away from the injured area. By reducing the swelling, there increased blood flow delivering oxygen to the injury to promote healing and lymphatic drainage.
What is Passive Compression?
While not as direct as active compression, passive compression can still offer many of the same benefits. As we mentioned, most cold therapy units inadvertently offer some level of compression as the pad fills with water. However, this would typically be a much milder form of compression than that of an active cold compression unit.
Although much lighter, passive cold compression can still be helpful in reducing swelling and promoting a faster healing time.
Active Cold Compression vs. Passive Cold Compression
The first thing to do when trying to choose a cold therapy unit with or without active compression, is to consult your doctor. Your doctor will know better than anyone exactly what your injury will need. Certain areas of the body may be better suited for active compression, such as the ankle.
Cold Therapy Units that Offer Active Compression:
Game Ready GRPro 2.1
Considered by most to be the gold standard in Cold Compression Therapy, the Game Ready GRPro 2.1 offers top of the line cold therapy with intermittent compression. The top choice for professional athletes, the Game Ready Cold Therapy Unit offers adjustable temperature and pressure for a custom treatment specific to each individual.
While it has a high price tag, the Game Ready GRPro 2.1 offers a wide variety of wraps for all over the body and ample accessories, the Game Ready truly is in a league of its own.
Get it here for $2,755.00.
Breg Polar Care Wave
One of the newest cold therapy units from Breg, The Polar Care Wave combines motorized cold therapy with active compression all in one simple, compact system. Ideal for both home and facility use, the Polar Care Wave can be easily transported to and from treatment to home. The Breg Wave has available pads for the knee, shoulder, ankle, and hip, as well as a universal pad option making it a great, budget friendly cold compression therapy system.
Get it here for $249.00.
Cryo Cuff IC Cooler
An inexpensive, effective option for cold compression therapy, the Aircast Motorized Cryo Cuff IC Cooler offers a simple and easy to use system ideal for post operative recovery, trauma, athletic training, and at-home use.
With a 30 second cycle system, the Cryo Cuff IC Cooler provides automatic intermittent cold compression via pads specifically designed for treatment to the ankle, knee, shoulder, back, and hip.
Get it here for $113.49.
Cold Therapy Units that Offer Passive Compression
With one of the longest run times of any Cold Therapy Unit on the market, the Breg Kodiak Cold Therapy Unit allows for 8-10 consecutive hours of cold therapy treatment to various areas of the body. While this unit does not offer active compression, it can still provide a mild level of passive compression when the pad is attached to the desired area of treatment and then filled with water.
Get it here for $159.99
Ossur Cold Rush
Offering the most quiet motor on the market and a notably strong flow rate, the Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy Unit is trusted by many to provide 4-6 hours of cold therapy treatment. Also available in a compact version ideal for travel, the Cold Rush Cold Therapy Unit is a great option for those looking for mild passive compression post surgery or injury.
Get it here for $174.99.
Designed with a dual pump motor, the DonJoy CLEAR3 Cold Therapy Unit allows for a constant flow of cold therapy for up to 6-8 hours. One of the top recommended brands by medical professionals, the CLEAR3 offers flow control to allow for custom cold therapy treatments.
Get it here for $129.00.
Shop all Cold Compression Therapy units for sale at Source Cold Therapy.