Every year, over 30 million youths ages 8 to 17 participate in sports all over the United States. Regarding these athletes, an average of 3.5 million sports-related injuries are reported each year, in which 22.6% of these cases concern the ankle. The most common and recommended therapy for such injuries is the RICE method–Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation– which aims to reduce swelling and increase blood flow throughout the affected areas.
A basic technology that helps injury recovery is the instant cold pack, which is non-reusable. This application can cause frostbite if used without a cloth and provides no compression. Another current technology that helps heal injuries is the Game Ready Ankle Wrap, which is expensive ($370) and causes the user to be immobile. For our project we attempted to find a cost effective way to decrease pain while providing recovery to muscle/ligament injuries in the ankle.
We primarily focused on providing ice and compression simultaneously to an ankle injury. We decided to use replaceable endothermic reaction packets within a brace. The reaction absorbs heat from the skin, which cools the injury. The brace compresses the injury with velcro straps that tighten in a figure eight pattern. This stabilizes the injury while allowing the user to be mobile.
Our prototype cools to 0°C in under 1 minute, stays cold for 15 minutes, costs $13 per unit (includes 1 reaction pouch), provides adjustable compression, weighs under 1 pound, is reusable, has comfortable fabric, and is safe and easy to use for users. In the future we hope to offer packets that create a heat releasing reaction. This way the athlete can choose to apply heat or cold to his/her injury based on the time that has progressed from when the injury occurred.
(Left to right) Jessica Yen, Johanna Hunter, Alex Condotti, and Lucas Novak worked on decreasing pain and aiding recovery during ankle injuries and demonstrated a modified ankle brace with pouches of urea powder that provide a cold compress without impeding mobility when activated with water.
Click here to see the group's poster.