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The P.O.L.I.C.E. Principle

What is the P.O.L.I.C.E. principle?

P.O.L.I.C.E. stands for Protect, Optimal Load, Ice, Compress, Elevate.

We are not immune to injury, especially due the multitude of daily forces subjected to our bodies. Unfortunately, some of these stresses can be traumatic and cause tissue damage. Traditionally, the first aid method of healing injured body parts has been taught through the pneumonic, R.I.C.E, representing the ideal to Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate (the injured tissue). This outdated pneumonic poses some problems that you should be fully aware of. For example, inappropriate amounts of resting an injury may cause further tissue damage, as it does not allow the body to remodel necessary bony, musculoskeletal or collagenous structures at appropriate times throughout the healing phases. Inappropriate amounts of rest also promotes inactivity as a form of treatment and will result in the body adapting for rest.

P.O.L.I.C.E. and Physical Therapy

At Wright Physical Therapy, our expert Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) promote a more effective way of healing damaged tissues with the ideal of return to function. We have incorporated the acronym P.O.L.I.C.E. as the most effective healing approach to injuries.

Protect emphasizes the importance of avoiding further tissue damage, but doesn’t infer indefinite immobilization. This could mean using crutches to protect an injured lower extremity, while actively engaging in daily tasks. Protect could represent the appropriate amounts of rest to heal the injury as well.

Optimal Load may be the most vital component of healing your injury. Injured tissue must be exposed to mechanical stresses necessary for the body to remodel and restore function. Research has shown repeatedly that injured tissue that undergoes appropriate mechanical stress will experience physiological responses at the cellular level vital for quick healing. As your body heals, your optimal load
will change. This process of loading the tissues optimally becomes tricky, and maybe detrimental if inappropriately applied. If you are injured, you may be assessed by one of our skilled DPT’s, who will provide clear and calculated instructions on how and when to optimally load your body.

Ice aids to reduce the inflammatory response, which allows for removal of cellular waste and prevention of scar tissue.

Compression and Elevation will assist in limiting swelling, or dependent edema, as bodily fluid is forced away from the injured structure(s) and back into circulation. These components of the POLICE acronym assist to decrease pain and control the build-up of noxious biochemicals.

In summary, the POLICE principle; Protect, Optimal Load, Ice, Compress and Elevate will elevate your healing and improve human performance for whatever you do.