I’m often asked by athletes to clarify the proper action for dealing with minor injuries such as sprained ankles, bruised limbs and sore muscles. The rule is that only minor injuries should be treated at home. If there is any doubt about the severity of an injury, seek an examination and x-rays by a doctor. This is especially true for our precious children athletes. How can you determine the severity of an injury? By recognizing the danger signs of injuries, like fractures and dislocations. These are some signs to look out for: PAIN—very severe and usually increases with movement of the injured part. PULSE—If you know how to find a pulse, if it is absent as the injured side but present on the normal side. DEFORMITY--This is not always obvious and should be compared to the uninjured side. DISCOLORATION—indicates bleeding into the tissue. OPEN WOUNDS require medical attention. CHRONIC pain that will not go away; If any of these signs are present after an injury, see a doctor. Once you have determined that a minor injury exists, such as a twisted ankle or sprained thumb, you may begin first aid by following the simple formula common1y referred to as R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress and elevate): REST is very important in the treatment formula and is often neglected. Instead of running or playing through the pain, get off your feet and rest immediately. ICE the injured area thoroughly either submerged in cold water or with ice packs. Do this 15 minutes at a time, several times each day. The ice will reduce the swelling and shrink torn blood vessels and numb the pain. COMPRESSION to the area with a cold Ace bandage or towel previously soaked and drained in cold water. This will limit the swelling and speed up the healing process. ELEVATE the injured part by placing it above the heart to allow gravity to drain fluid. For an ankle sprain, simply prop it up on a couple of pillows, if it is a hand or arm, the athlete should hold it above the chest as much as possible. After 48 hours, begin warm water soaking. This will stimulate blood flow and allow nutrients, oxygen and inflammatory cells to induce quicker healing. Alternate the soaking in warm then cold baths, finishing with cold. One final note: Make sure you adequately rest the injured part and work back gradually over several weeks. For instance, if an ankle or leg is injured, begin by walking, jogging then running in straight line, until you can run comfortable at full speed. Use the same precautions and procedures with minor injury to any limbs of the body.