How to Use the PRICE Protocol for the Care of Sports Injuries
Both adults and children are susceptible to sports injuries, from mild sprains and strains to serious fractures and ligament tears. Kids and adolescents are particularly vulnerable. According to a recent study, 40% of young athletes suffered injuries in 2019.
Quick action is important, but when an injury occurs, do you know what to do? Sports injury rehabilitation specialists recommend the PRICE method while waiting to get a professional evaluation. This easy-to-remember technique protects the injured tissue and helps reduce swelling and pain.
What is the PRICE Protocol?
The PRICE method of injury management is a first-aid technique for the immediate and ongoing care of minor injuries. PRICE is an acronym that makes it easy to understand what to do for certain types of injuries.
Of course, any injury should be seen by a medical professional, but some minor injuries benefit from homecare using this protocol. Most people can recover from a mild ankle sprain, for example, by using the method immediately and as the injury heals.
What Types of Injuries Benefit from the PRICE Method?
The PRICE steps are most often used for acute sports injuries. These are injuries with a sudden onset during activity, whether you’re playing a sport or not. For instance, you might twist your ankle on a hike, or your child could be hit in the knee by another player during a soccer match. Examples of acute injuries that benefit from immediate PRICE care include:
Following the PRICE protocol for a few days after an injury can speed the healing process and help an athlete get back to the game sooner.
P – Protection
The first step in immediate first-aid for a sports injury is to protect the area from further injury. This means immediately stopping the activity to avoid causing worse damage. It might also include supportive protection, depending on the injury. Examples include a brace, splint, bandage, or sling.
R – Rest
Rest is essential for any injury because it allows the body to heal. Any significant movement can impede the process or—even worse—re-injure an area. Part of rest means avoiding or limiting putting weight on an injury. You might need crutches or similar aid to ensure the injured area gets full rest.
Rest is important both in the short term and throughout the healing process. If your child sprains their ankle during a game, they need to sit out and rest it for the duration. Depending on the severity of the injury, they might need to continue to rest it for days or weeks.