If you have recently had surgery or are nursing an injury, chances are you may have come across the idea of using a Cold Therapy Unit as a healing treatment. Cold Therapy, or Ice Therapy, is a treatment that helps reduce swelling and pain with the use of ice cold liquid.
What is a Cold Therapy Unit and How Does It Work?
A Cold Therapy Unit is a machine designed to use ice cold water as a means of reducing swelling and/or chronic pain from an area of the body. It works by wrapping the designated area with ice cold water to drive the heat out, reducing the swelling and pain. These systems are able to get much colder and maintain their ice cold temperatures significantly longer than typical ice packs and have been shown to reduce healing time.
How To Find The Right Machine For You
When choosing the right cold therapy unit the first question we ask is what body part is injured. There are a few different options for units and brands to choose from but depending on which body part is injured will influence the unit to choose. All the units cost about the same but some have better pads for certain body parts.
Before we dive too deeply into the systems that best benefit specific areas, let’s highlight some of the units we recommend and their overall benefits.
Ossur Cold Rush
The Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy Unit is best known for being “quiet as a whisper” with a strong flow rate and extended hose length. This unit has a run time of up to 6 hours.
*Ossur also offers a compact version of this unit
Breg Cold Care Kodiak
The Breg Cold Care Kodiak Unit is the newest from Breg. It has an optional battery pack making it a great option to use when traveling and features an increased run time of 8-10 hours.
Breg Polar Care Cube
The Breg Polar Care Cube Unit has a great run time of 6-8 hours of run time and multiple size options for each pad making it a great option for those looking for a little extra coverage.
Aircast Cryo Cuff IC Cooler
Ideal for injuries on the lower extremities, the Aircast Cryo Cuff IC Cooler delivers 4-6 hours of intermittent cold therapy and compression to the desired area.
Which System Is Best For Each Area?
Now that we have a better overall understanding of each unit, let’s look at which one works best for each area of the body.
Although all of our cold therapy units would be great for ankle rehab, the Cryo Cuff I/C also offers intermittent compression (I/C) which is typically part of rehabbing ankle injuries.
If you are looking to use a Cold Therapy unit for a different area of your body, all units (except for the Aircast Cryo Cuff IC Cooler) provide universal or multipurpose pad options.
How To Use a Cold Therapy System
Every unit works the same simple way:
- First add ice. Inside each unit is a fill line for ice (Use frozen plastic water bottles in combination with ice to save on ice cubes).
- Then pour in water to the water fill line (Keep water chilled in the refrigerator for best results).
- Now attach your wrap to the feeder hose.
- Plug in your unit with the power cord.
- Attach the wrap to your body with the elastic wraps provided with your body part wrap (Place T-shirt as a barrier between bare skin and wrap).
- Turn on the unit. The motor will automatically pump the cold water continuously thru the pad to provide consistent cold temperature to the pad.
Note: The unit itself is NOT a refrigeration device. It is an insulated cooler that maintains very cold temperatures for several hours.
Others Things To Consider:
Feeder Hose Length
The feeder hose that comes with the units is typically about 5 feet long with the exception of the Ossur Cold Rush which is 6 feet long. When in use, you can place the unit on the ground beside you and the hose will be able to reach any body part. If you are looking for a unit with a longer hose, we recommend considering the Ossur Cold Rush.
While all of the coolers are remarkably quiet, just giving off a faint motor hum while working, the Ossur Cold Rush is absolutely whisper quiet. Breg Polar Care and Breg Kodiak are also very quiet units. The Iceman Classic, the Clear3 and the Cryo Cuff I/C units are slightly more audible.
When full of ice and water cold therapy units weigh about 15 lbs on average with the exception of the Cryo Cuff I/C Motorized unit which weighs about 7 lbs when full.
All of our units have automatic flow control built in to deliver optimum cold temperature. The Iceman Classic, Ossur Cold Rush and the CLEAR3 Plus all have an adjustable flow control dial.The faster the flow rate the colder the temperature of the water when it reaches the pad. The Iceman Classicand the CLEAR3 Plus have an in-line Flow Control which keeps the adjustment knob within easy reach.
The Cryo Cuff I/C Motorized unit does provide Intermittent Compression(I/C) allowing for slight compression. For professionals and athletes our Game Ready Pro cold therapy unit is the best combination compression and cold therapy unit on the market.
- Use a simple T-shirt as a barrier between bare skin and the wrap or pad when using a machine.
- Place a towel beneath your cooler unit during use. Cold temperatures will sometimes cause slight condensation on the cooler.
- Use 1 or 2 frozen plastic water bottles in combination with ice.
- Store water in the refrigerator so water is already cold when poured into the unit.
Source Ortho is an Authorized Manufacturers Distributor which means all of our products are backed by the manufacturer's warranty. All cold therapy units above have a 6 month warranty and all wraps are backed by a 1 month warranty.
There is no single unit we would recommend because it depends on your Cold Therapy needs. Although the Ossur Cold Rush gets very high marks for it's whisper quiet motor, 6 foot feeder hose and Flow Control, all of the cold therapy units we carry are high quality. The Cryo Cuff I/C unit is often recommended for rehab of lower extremities, such as the ankle and foot, that may need intermittent compression (I/C).