Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

First Reader

Kitsum Li, OTD, OTR/L


Cryotherapy and contrast baths are common modalities used to treat edema. Despite the fact that many hand therapists report using contrast baths with their patients, there is still little evidence on the effectiveness of them. A Randomized Controlled Trial-Repeated Measures Design was employed to compare the effectiveness of contrast baths to cryotherapy. Participants were recruited after a period of post-fracture immobilization. Blind assessors attained measurements in range of motion, pain, and edema in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to either use cryotherapy or contrast baths at home during the 4-week study period. The participants in this study were asked to keep a home program log to record the number of times that they were able to complete their assigned modality. Also, at the final measurement appointment, the participants were asked to complete a survey indicating their satisfaction with their assigned home program. The results from the ANOVA indicated that there was statistical significance for all the measurements (p < .05) except for palm circumferential and volumeter. The results from the home program logs indicated that the adherence for contrast baths had a mean of 2.03 (SD = 0.76) times per day and the cryotherapy group had a mean of 1.75 (SD = 0.98) times per day. The researchers also noted a trend that the contrast baths group may have a larger effect in the first two weeks of treatment, while the cryotherapy group may have more gradual improvements throughout the four weeks. The results of this study found that adherence for contrast baths and cryotherapy had similar home program adherence and that the participants had similar experiences.