Curriculum Updates

Changes in Orthopedic Injury Management

For decades, orthopedic injuries have been treated using the “RICE” mnemonic; rest, ice, compress, elevate. As there have been many studies done on best practices; many of which from both professional and collegiate athletic programs, new science shows that a drastic change may show significantly greater results.


Rest is no longer advised unless absolutely necessary. Rather, continued (gentle) use of the injured extremity may benefit the patient more in the long run.


Cooling the injury for long periods of time is no longer recommended; however, applying ice for 20-40 minutes may help to manage pain. Ice can decrease skin temperature to the point where nerve conduction is inhibited and pain decreases and can be an effective non-pharmacological pain intervention.


Elevating an orthopedic injury above the patient’s heart may reduce throbbing in addition to possibly alleviating a bit of swelling and discomfort.


The *NEW* mnemonic used to remember the steps to treating an orthopedic injury is now: HELP Stabilize.

    • Hydrate
    • ELevate
    • Pain management
    • Stabilize (splint) the injury



These curricula recommendations have been adopted from NOLS Wilderness Medicine and have been edited to conform to the standards
set by Center for Wilderness Safety and the Wilderness Medical Society in accordance with the WMS National Practice Guidelines.