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Products make temperature therapy easier
Monday July 23, 2012
Photo courtesy TheraPearl LLC TheraPearlís eyemask can be used for headaches or sinus pressure.

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Heat and cold are just two of the tools a physical therapist can use to help patients recover. David Nolan, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, CSCS, associate clinical professor at Northeastern University in Boston, said both definitely have their place. Gel cold packs, Nolan said, are good for patients to use at home, and can be molded to fit the body area being treated. "If you think of an elbow or something like that, itís a little bit harder to get full contact with ice," he said. "But a gel pack you can maneuver around the area and have cold contacting the entire surface."

The qualities of a bag of frozen peas inspired TheraPearl (therapearl.com) cold and hot packs, according to Candice Beitler, strategic marketing director for the company. "It was based on frozen peas, but even after you take it directly out of the freezer, TheraPearl bends and conforms to any part of your body," she said.

The Maryland-based company offers many different shapes for the packs, including a neck wrap, eye mask, a backwrap with strap, a large oval with a strap, a square sports pack and animal-shaped packs for children.


The knee wrap is one of two new Thera Pearl products licensed by the NFL Playersí Association.
(Photo courtesy TheraPearl LLC)
"You can store it in your freezer and use it cold, and then pop it in the microwave and use it hot directly after," Beitler said. The packs stay at the hot or cold temperature for 20 minutes, then return to room temperature, she said. The newest products from TheraPearl are a knee pack and a pair of shin packs licensed by the NFL Players Association, Beitler said. Those packs were scheduled to be available in July.

The limitations of a bag of peas also spurred engineer Jonathan Flick to invent Torex Hot and Cold Therapy Sleeves (torexhealth.com). According to Steve Trent, one of the companyís original owners, Flick was told to ice his broken ankle with peas or a standard ice pack, but he wanted to be able to go to work and ice while sitting at his desk. The Torex sleeves combine a radial gel pack with a compression sleeve.

"You can store it in your freezer and use it cold, and then pop it in the microwave and use it hot directly after," Beitler said. The packs stay at the hot or cold temperature for 20 minutes, then return to room temperature, she said. The newest products from TheraPearl are a knee pack and a pair of shin packs licensed by the NFL Players Association, Beitler said. Those packs were scheduled to be available in July.

The limitations of a bag of peas also spurred engineer Jonathan Flick to invent Torex Hot and Cold Therapy Sleeves (torexhealth.com). According to Steve Trent, one of the companyís original owners, Flick was told to ice his broken ankle with peas or a standard ice pack, but he wanted to be able to go to work and ice while sitting at his desk. The Torex sleeves combine a radial gel pack with a compression sleeve.

"The beauty of it is it can roll on with one hand, and itíll stay in place," he said. Unlike some ice packs, the radial design allows the sleeve to heat or cool an entire problem area, not just one spot, Trent said. "If you have an elbow problem, or a knee problem or an ankle problem, you want the pain to be eliminated. This truly eliminates pain because it rolls on and covers 360 degrees," he said.


The ThermaZone uses 2 ounces of water, no ice, and can provide hot and cold therapy.
(Photo courtesy Innovative Medical Equipment)
The limitations of a bag of peas also spurred engineer Jonathan Flick to invent Torex Hot and Cold Therapy Sleeves (torexhealth.com). According to Steve Trent, one of the companyís original owners, Flick was told to ice his broken ankle with peas or a standard ice pack, but he wanted to be able to go to work and ice while sitting at his desk. The Torex sleeves combine a radial gel pack with a compression sleeve.

"The beauty of it is it can roll on with one hand, and itíll stay in place," he said. Unlike some ice packs, the radial design allows the sleeve to heat or cool an entire problem area, not just one spot, Trent said. "If you have an elbow problem, or a knee problem or an ankle problem, you want the pain to be eliminated. This truly eliminates pain because it rolls on and covers 360 degrees," he said.

"The beauty of it is it can roll on with one hand, and itíll stay in place," he said. Unlike some ice packs, the radial design allows the sleeve to heat or cool an entire problem area, not just one spot, Trent said. "If you have an elbow problem, or a knee problem or an ankle problem, you want the pain to be eliminated. This truly eliminates pain because it rolls on and covers 360 degrees," he said.

The compression sleeve also protects the userís skin from becoming too cold. The Torex hot/cold packs can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer based on the desired temperature and can be heated in the microwave to help with arthritis pain, Trent said.

Torex worked with athletic trainers for the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team to develop a patented solution for basketball playersí ankle sprains, Trent said. The MC2, which stands for Malleolar Cryo-Compression, provides compression and immediate cold therapy, and it straps on so the user can walk around, he said. The companyís newest hot/cold therapy item is the Shoulder, a pack designed to stay on and provide relief from shoulder pain. "You can put it on your shoulder with one hand," Trent said. The product, which is set to be available in July, stretches to fit over a personís shoulder, and has a 6-inch area that flaps over the shoulder and stays in place. Like other Torex products, the gel is designed to be flexible when frozen.


The MC2 was developed with trainers for the Cleveland Cavaliers to provide cold therapy and compression for injured players.
(Photo courtesy Torex)
Avoiding the burn

When it comes to using heat therapy in his practice, Nolan said he prefers to use an active warm-up, such as having a patient use an arm bicycle, to gain the added benefits from movement. However, he said, if a patient isnít able to do an active warm-up, then heíll use a moist heat pack.

Norwegian Medical Supply (norwegianmedicalsupply.com), with U.S. operations in Syracuse, N.Y., has produced hot and cold packs popular with PTs in Scandinavia for 10 years and recently made the packs available in the U.S., according to COO Thomas Gunerman. The NMS Gel Pack is engineered to alleviate two major problems with moist heat therapy: patient burns and bacterial contamination. Gunerman said the NMS packs should be heated to about 130 degrees in the hydrocollator. The packs come in six anatomically designed shapes.

"Traditional packs donít conform to the personís body, and now you get uneven heat," Gunerman said. "[The NMS] stays pliable and rolls and forms right over the shoulder."

Unlike traditional moist hot packs, the NMS Gel Pack has a vinyl cover that can be cleaned after use with any common clinical antibacterial cleaner.

The NMS Cold Pack is available in three shapes, and the patented gel conforms to the body when frozen, he said. "Many products get clumpy or stiff when cold, but these continue to remain soft and pliant."

The Ice-Up Portable Ice Massager from Pro-Tec Athletics (injurybegone.com), gives the option of direct ice massage instead of a standard ice treatment, according to Sayeh Jackson, director of marketing. The stick is filled with water then frozen, and thanks to a carrying case that can be frozen, it will remain cold for as long as 12 hours, Jackson said. The case is leakproof, and the cap is designed to be easy to open even with wet hands. "Physical therapists, athletic trainers and athletes can have it on hand immediately when they need it," she said.

Pro-Tec also offers a Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap, which comes in two sizes and combines temperature therapy with compression. The gel packs remain flexible when frozen, Jackson said. "The gel pack slides into a Velcro sleeve in the wrap, so you donít have to hold the ice pack on," she said.


Torex Hot and Cold Therapy Sleeves roll on, providing temperature therapy to an entire area.
(Photo courtesy Torex)
Getting rid of the ice

Nolan, who is a clinical specialist at Massachusetts General Hospitalís sports physical therapy department, said he often uses the Game Ready system by CoolSystems Inc. (gameready.com), which combines compression and cold therapy from circulating ice water. Nolan said the PT can control the temperature and amount of compression. "One limiting factor is the cost. Itís great, but not everybody is going to be able to afford that," he said.

Innovative Medical Equipment LLC recently introduced the ThermaZone continuous thermal therapy device (therma-zone.com), which gives PTs another option to provide hot and cold therapy without ice or traditional ice or heat packs. According to Margie Rowe, director of marketing, ThermaZone is more affordable for PTs working in smaller clinics and home care than the Game Ready, which starts at about $2,400 according to the companyís website. ThermaZone uses 2 ounces of distilled water and can be set to temperatures ranging from 38 degrees to 125 degrees. The device circulates water through pads that fit around the target body part while providing static compression for the area. •

Bonnie Benton is a member of the editorial staff.


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Monday July 23, 2012
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