Immediate effects of cryotherapy on static and dynamic balance.

Authors:  Douglas M, Bivens S, Pesterfield J, Clemson N, Castle W, Sole G, Wassinger C

Cryotherapy is commonly used in physical therapy with many known benefits; however several investigations have reported decreased functional performance following therapeutic application thereof.  The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of cryotherapy applied to the ankle on static and dynamic standing balance. No statistically significant differences (and low effect sizes) in static balance indices were found between the post-cryotherapy and the control conditions.  Dynamic medial-lateral (ML) indices significantly increased following the cryotherapy application.  No differences were noted between experimental and control conditions for the dynamic anterior-posterior (AP) or overall balance indices while a small effect size was noted for both.  Overall, the results suggest that cryotherapy to the ankle has a negative effect on the ML component of dynamic balance following ice water immersion.  Therefore, immediate return to play following cryotherapy application is cautioned given the decreased dynamic ML balance and potential for increased injury risk.

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