The effect of a cooling cuff and moist ice pack on radial artery blood flow and lumen diameter
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Background: When a soft tissue injury occurs the blood vessels and surrounding tissue are damaged leading to haemorrhaging and inflammation. Cryotherapy (cold therapy) is generally acknowledged as the preferable treatment by manual therapists during this immediate post-traumatic period of an injury. Cryotherapy has been shown to result in vasoconstriction decreasing the rate of blood flow which has a favourable effect on inflammation and pain. The commercially available cooling cuff is a relatively new cryotherapy modality offering a mechanism of cooling that does not require freezing and is easy to use. The polymer granules within the cooling cuff are activated by emersion in water therefore freezing is not required making the cooling cuff readily available compared to more traditional forms of cryotherapy. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a moist ice pack and a commercially available cooling cuff radial artery blood flow (cm.s-1) and radial artery lumen diameter (mm) after 15 minutes of application. Method: This study was a pre-test post-test design utilising 43 asymptomatic participants that were randomly allocated to one of two groups. Each group either received a standard moist ice pack or a commercially available cooling cuff, placed on the ventral surface of the participants forearm, over the radial artery, for a duration of 15 minutes. Measurements were taken with a Doppler ultrasound to determine radial artery blood flow and lumen diameter, prior to the intervention and 15 minutes after the cryotherapy application. Data analysis was performed using IBM SPSS VERSION 20 (IBM Corp. Released 2010.IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 19.0. Armonk, New York: IBM Corp.). Statistical significance was set at a p< 0.05 level. Intra-group and inter-group comparisons were measured using repeated measures ANOVA testing. Results: Both the moist ice pack and commercially available cooling cuff resulted in a significant decrease in radial artery blood flow (p< 0.001) after 15 minutes of application with no significant changes being observed in radial artery diameter Conclusions: The commercially available cooling cuff resulted in a similar effect on radial artery blood flow and lumen diameter as moist ice, indicating that the commercially available cooling cuff may be utilised in the acute phase of an injury to alter blood flow.