Jan 29, 2015
Making a Difference

Like a lot of schools, the University of Maine was getting by with a pair of stainless steel tubs for both heat and cold. And like a lot of Head Athletic Trainers, Paul Culina was spending time every day hauling ice, filling tubs with water, scrubbing them clean, and disinfecting them, only to do it all over again the next day.

After five years of that routine, he was ready for a change. “I told the Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach that we really needed to get a PolarPool™,” says Culina, MEd, ATC, CPO, who provides primary coverage for men’s and women’s ice hockey. “He immediately added it to the top of his wish list, and it arrived about a month ago. Two folks from the company slid it off the truck, rolled it into place, plugged it in, filled it up, and added a little salt. Since then, I’ve tossed in a chlorine tab once a week, but that’s all I’ve had to do.”

With the old tubs, which only fit two or three athletes at a time, players had to wait in line–or give up and go home. With the PolarPool™, which fits five or six, cold water immersion has become a regular part of post-practice recovery, and most of the hockey players use it for 15 minutes a day.

“They love it,” says Culina. “They feel invigorated when they get out, their legs feel better, and they know they can work even harder at the next practice session. Our coaches are big supporters, too, because they know the players really believe in it, and after a really demanding workout, they make sure everyone takes a turn before they leave the rink.”

In the first month of using his new cold tub, Culina has seen positive results from treating ankle, knee, thigh, and groin injuries with cryotherapy. The cold water acts as an anti-inflammatory, and the hydrostatic pressure helps flush out cellular wastes that are the natural byproducts of muscle exertion, helping speed recovery from the microtrauma of daily exercise.

Culina recommends a PolarPool™ to every athlete and athletic trainer who has the chance to use one. “As an athletic trainer, the last thing you want to do is take time maintaining your modalities when you could be treating athletes,” says Culina. “The 20 minutes I used to spend every day on the old tubs has become less than five minutes a week. The alkalinity is stable, the tub is generating its own chlorine, and the water is crystal clear.

“I have colleagues who raved about their Polar Pool™, so I knew it was going to be low-maintenance,” he continues. “But there’s even less work than I thought.”

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