The Game Ready® Ice Machine is top of the line when it comes to cold compression therapy machines. It is often the unit chosen by physical therapists to speed up their patients’ recovery and reduce pain and swelling.
The Game Ready® is a clinical-grade machine, as such, it comes with a high price tag—$3000-$4000. While this top-of-the-line unit works well for professional athletes, you don't have to cough up a mortgage payment (U.S. average is ~$1,500) to get a great cold therapy machine.
Let’s explore what this ice machine does, what sets it apart, who typically uses it, and what other options are out there.
Injuries and RICE methods
The Game Ready system aids the recovery process by complementing the body’s ability to heal. By combining two tried and true treatments that have been used for ages, it speeds up recovery from musculoskeletal injuries or surgery.
What are these treatments? Ice and pressure.
Imagine you’re watching the last 5 minutes of a tense soccer match. The crowd gasps as an athlete falls to the ground in agony. A medic runs onto the sports field to assist. He can choose between two methods to reduce damage, ease pain, and hopefully save the match: ice and pressure.
Independently, these therapies are extremely effective. And they have been around for a long time. It is estimated that cold therapy has been around since 3500 BC. The combination of ice and pressure form the basis of the RICE recommendations given by medical professionals for many physical injuries.
These two methods have evolved independently in the rehabilitation and physical therapy field, creating a market that produced several medical devices to treat injuries and assist with post-op recovery using cold therapy and compression therapy.
The Benefits of Cold Therapy
Because cryotherapy, or cold therapy, provides pain relief for inflamed, injured, and overused muscles, it is popular with professional athletes who regularly push their bodies’ limits.
Cold therapy is used on sports fields, in physical therapy clinics, and in hospitals as a method to reduce pain and swelling, with amazing results. Some other benefits of passive cold therapy application are increased metabolism and a stronger immune system.
The Benefits of Active Compression Therapy
Active Compression therapy is when controlled pressure is applied to an area with the purpose of increasing blood flow. This stimulates the lymphatic and venous systems. Compression therapy units work by pushing compressed air into anatomical wraps or elastic devices that wrap around the affected area.
Different wraps and pads exist for different body parts. Shoulder and knee injuries especially are common in competitive sports. A shoulder or knee wrap can help exert controlled pressure on that area.
The intermittent pressure that is exerted when the wraps fill with compressed air imitates natural muscle contractions in the body. The purpose of this mimicked natural function is to encourage blood flow. This then directs more oxygenated blood to the injured area. This sends the body the message to “start healing faster!”
The painful swelling that occurs as a result of many injuries is called edema, or water retention. Active compression with a compression therapy device alleviates pain by causing the swelling to go down, and is used as a stand-alone treatment by physical therapists everywhere.
It is a safe, natural way to help speed up recovery and stimulate tissue repair.
ACCEL: Combining Cryotherapy and Compression Therapy
Game Ready® combines active compression and cryotherapy with their innovative Active Compression and Cold Exchange Loop (ACCEL) trademarked technology. Let’s see how it works.
The main unit of the Game Ready® machine contains an ice-filled compartment.
Game Ready® wraps, which are anatomically engineered for a perfect fit, cover the injured tissue. This circumferential coverage ensures optimal cooling. Ice water circulates through the wraps or pads and creates an active temperature exchange that cools consistently, keeping the temperature constant. This method enables deeper cooling, faster.
The therapeutic power of the circumferential wraps doesn't stop there. Air pockets in the wraps provide active pneumatic compression by intermittently filling with air. Patients control compression applications with an intuitive user interface on the main unit.
Portable and Convenient
The Game Ready® Pro 2.1 cold compression machine provides hours of consistent therapy. It also comes with a battery pack and bag that allows users to carry it around with ease.
Simple User Interface
The cold and compression therapy unit comes with a controller to adjust treatment time, temperature, and pressure. It also has the option to create pre-set programs.
Who uses it?
Physical therapists, athletic trainers, and leading orthopedic surgeons have been astounded by this revolutionary treatment system. Specifically, the way it accelerates post-op recovery and stimulates tissue repair from even the most acute musculoskeletal injuries - all while easing pain. This treatment is also popular with elite athletes, special military forces, and professional sports teams.
Game Ready Alternatives
We get it, you don’t want to skimp on expenses to the detriment of your health, but man, that’s a pricey device.
Do you have other options?
Yes! And luckily they come at great prices. Brands to pay attention to are Breg Polar Care, AirCast, and DonJoy. These brands have many iterations of cold therapy machines, however, not all models combine cold therapy with active compression.
Two cold compression therapy machines that function similarly to Game Ready Pro 2.1. are the Breg Polar Care Wave and the Aircast Cryo Cuff units.
The newest addition to the Breg Polar Series was designed with in-home use in mind. Similar to the Game Ready® GRPro 2.1, it offers cold therapy and compression therapy with anatomical wraps. The best part? This system is small, lightweight, portable, and a tenth of the price.
The Breg Polar Care Wave comes with:
- A cooler with air pump and tubing
- A cold compression pad that covers the injured area
- A power supply
- An intuitive interface
- A convenient handle for portability
One of the most notable differences between the two products is that the Game Ready® 2.1 includes a battery pack while the Breg Polar Care Wave does not. However, considering its portability and reduced cost, we consider it an excellent purchase that will provide the same relief at a fraction of the cost.
This Aircast Cryo Cuff IC cold therapy unit provides intermittent cyclical compression. Chilled water flows through the Cryo Cuff knee, shoulder, or ankle cuffs and places a comfortable amount of pressure on the injured area. Like the Breg Polar Care unit above, it is lightweight, portable, and also a tenth of the price of the Game Ready®.
The Aircast CryoCuff IC therapy machine comes with:
- An Aircast Cryocuff IC Cooler and tubing
- Anatomically designed shoulder cuffs, knee wraps, and ankle wraps as required
- A power supply
For a more extensive list of the best cold therapy units, read our Best Cold Therapy Machines guide.
Game Ready Ice Machine Alternatives - In Conclusion
Both the Aircast Cryo Cuff and the Breg Polar Care Wave units are excellent alternatives to Game Ready Pro 2.1. Although these units differ from the Game Ready unit in size and design, they function similarly and provide the same treatment and benefits using cold compression therapy.
If you are a professional athlete, then GameReady is probably worth the investment because you will use it almost every day for your entire career. If you are recovering from total knee surgery for the next 10-12 weeks, then the Breg Wave or Aircast CryoCuff will be a great purchase you will be happy with.
For more resources on injury prevention and recovery, read on: