RICER: First Aid for Sprains, Strains and Fractures

RICER: First-Aid Technique for Toddler Injuries

Sprains, strains and fractures are common injuries that most active toddlers face, once in a while. They usually happen when young kids fall or bump into something, or while playing and doing other physical activities. That is why parents should be aware of the first aid technique called RICER (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral) to offer immediate aid to the child.

When a toddler gets injured, there are chances of internal bleeding or swelling in the affected area. If the injury swells up too much, it can prove to be harmful. In such situations, RICER needs to be used within 48 hours of the mishap, whether it is a sprain, strain or a fracture. It can limit the swelling and make the kid recover quickly.

Overcoming The Fear of Injuries in Toddlers

Parents must understand that the fear of sprains, strains and fractures should not make them stop their children from playing. These injuries are a normal part of the growing up process. Trying to prevent your child from being active, would simply make him lethargic and would hinder his holistic growth and development.

As parents, you must provide your child with the basic needs of exercise and physical activities. However, as a precautionary measure, you must learn the basic steps of first-aid to lessen the toddler’s pain, in case of an emergency. RICER is one such technique, that can help reduce the pain and associated suffering immediately after an injury.

What is RICER?

RICER stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, and Referral and is an effective first-aid practice to manage pain in toddlers after an injury. Here is how it works:

1. Rest

If a toddler gets injured, the first step is to stop him from taking part in any further painful activities. If the affected body part is stressed, moved or used excessively, it can increase the bleeding or swelling. It can also slow down the healing process, or make the condition worse. Let the kid take adequate rest for at least 24 to 72 hours. If you suspect a fracture, support the arm in a sling or use crutches for foot injury.

2. Ice

After your child is laid down in the resting position, bring an ice-pack and apply it gently on the affected area. This will slowly reduce the swelling, and it will also soothe the pain. Apply the ice-pack for 15 minutes at every 2 hours throughout the day. The following day, apply ice every 15 minutes at an interval of 4 hours. Do not apply the ice directly on the affected body part, make sure to cover it in a cloth.

3. Compression

Bandage the injured area firmly, but not so tight that it will obstruct the flow of blood. Start from the area just below the injured part and then slowly move upwards. Each of the layers should be half overlapped. Finish the bandage at about one hand distance from the injured area. Keep checking after a few hours.

4. Elevation

The injured area needs to be kept straight up or elevated above the hip level. This would limit the blood flow and reduce the swelling. Keep the child’s legs elevated on a chair, stool or a pillow.

5. Referral

Get the injury checked up by a doctor as he will be able to assume the seriousness of the wound and recommend what is to be done next. He could ask to get some x-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds done, and then plan the treatment according to the result.


Sprains, Strains and Fracture

Sometimes, you need to consult a doctor immediately after an injury, such as a fracture. The signs of a broken bone include a cracking sound at the time of injury, extreme pain while moving the affected limb, numbness in the affected area, swelling and fever. RICER treatment would be of no use in case of a fracture. Only a doctor’s intervention, following by plastering of the affected area would aid in the healing and rejoining of the bone.

On the other hand, sprains can be treated with RICER easily. They usually occur because of over stretching, and affect areas like ligaments, joints and soft tissues. The signs of sprain include swelling, pain in movement, and stiffness of the affected part.

One more aspect that needs to be kept in mind is that for the first 48 hours after the injury, don’t use any sort of heat compression or give the child hot rubs for treatment. Avoid intense or even moderate activities for that matter, to prevent the condition from getting worse. If his condition doesn’t improve, consulting a doctor should be your priority.

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