How to use your Cold Therapy Machine
Cold therapy is a highly effective way of reducing swelling, pain, and inflammation after a surgery or injury. Using your cold therapy device might seem difficult at first - this post is going to help you get your cold therapy machine running.
Cold therapy machines (like this ossur cold rush unit) are very simple - they consist of a reservoir, the wall plug, and the cold therapy pad. The setup for the reservoir is easy - you want to add cubed or chunk ice into the reservoir first, and then place cold water in right on top. Each manufacturer will have their own comments on setup, but generally you want as much ice as possible in the reservoir while still allowing for enough water to pump through the cold pad. It's very important you don't run the cold therapy machine dry - this will cause damage to the machine.
You will need to connect your cold pad to the machine. Most of the cold therapy units have a simple snap or press fit tube that connects to the pad. Make sure it's completely secure before turning the machine on, if the tube has not been connected correctly then it will leak. It's important to note that some condensation is unavoidable, especially in hot weather. If you have a little bit of moisture collecting on the pad, it's going to be that condensation and not a leak. Inspect the hoses and pad before use for any holes - if there is a hole then you will experience a leak for sure.
Connecting the cold pad is usually as simple as snapping the pad to the pump line
Once the pad is connected, you will want to attach it to your body before starting the cold therapy. Most of the pads secure in a special way, either with velcro, straps, ace bandages or a combination of those. You will have to look at the instructions that are included with it for proper securing instructions. It is also very important that you have an insulator in between yourself and the pad to prevent frost bite. A sock, t-shirt, or towel will usually do. Periodically, it's a good idea to take the cold therapy pad off and inspect your skin just to be sure you aren't having symptoms of frostbite or similar.
Once the machine has been filled with ice and water, you have inspected your pad and hose, and connected your pad to your body with an insulator in place, you are ready to begin your cold therapy session. Plug the device in to the wall (taking care to not get the electrical cord wet - that part isn't waterproof) and switch the unit on. Cold water will be pumped through the cold therapy unit and over the parts that are inflamed or injured. Typical usage time is anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, but it's very important to use the device only as long as has been recommended by your doctor.
During usage, you need to periodically check the skin under the pad for signs of frostbite, blisters, welts, and other skin issues that could be signifying a reaction or problem to the cold therapy. Most people find that cold therapy is simple, safe, and easy to use, and they don't experience any problems, but some persons are susceptible to cold and will be more likely to sustain injury due to sensitive skin. If the benefits for cold therapy don't outweigh your personal risks, then do not use cold therapy.
After you're done using the cold therapy machine, switch it off and unplug it from the wall. Remove the pad from your arm, knee, or wherever else you had it placed, and hold it up above the machine for a moment to help the water drain back inside. Take your cold therapy unit to a sink or tub and disconnect the pad, taking care not to get any water on the electrical wiring. You can squeeze the pad a little bit to help get all the water out for storage. Once you have drained the water from the pad, set it aside and empty the reservoir into a sink, tub, or somewhere else. Soak up any excess water as best as you can with a cloth or paper towel to prevent any mold or bacterial growth.
If your machine has a filter, be sure to clean the filter either directly after use, or upon using it again. Always do your best to keep water away from the electrical components as they aren't waterproof like the reservoir and pad. If you can, let the components air out for a bit before storing them away (mold likes cool, damp places). Though you won't be ingesting the water or really even touching it, mold buildup is undesirable. Taking care of your machine will keep it working for many years to come.
These are some sample protocols to follow when using a cold therapy machine, as per the manufacturer of the Kodiak Cold Therapy Machine.
Sample Protocol 1
Sample Protocol 2
Sample Protocol 3