Warwickshire and England all-rounder Chris Woakes is in the midst of what could be his busiest cricket season, but he might have spent it on the sidelines had things turned out differently.
Just over 12 months ago Woakes, 24, suffered a serious ankle injury during Warwickshire's pre-season tour of Barbados but he was able to recovery ahead of schedule and take his place in England's ICC Champions Trophy squad.
The ankle injury he suffered would usually put a player out of action for at least three months but after he returned to Birmingham, he met foot and ankle specialist Mark Herron at BMI Priory Hospital who came up with the idea of treating Woakes with a machine that has been used on Premiership footballers and top racehorses.
"At my age and at that stage in my career I really couldn’t afford a long lay-off," Woakes said.
"It was important that I got back playing as quickly as possible. By that time I had already had some involvement with the England team but I knew I needed to be out there showing what I could do in order to get further call-ups."
And Herron explained: "Chris’s injury was definitely at the severe end of the spectrum with two of the three major ankle ligaments disrupted and a lot of swelling anhttp://www.cricketworld.com/d pain. When I first saw him I felt there was I high chance that he was going to need surgery to get him back with the team."
Such was the impact the machine, known known as a Game Ready cold compression system, physio staff at Warwickshire Cricket Club have now invested in two to help treat the constant sprains and bruises suffered by its cricketers.
Head physiotherapist Gerhard Mostert explained: "I had heard about the Game Ready being used by Premiership football clubs but cricketing finances don’t allow us to always have the same sort of equipment.
"However, when we took Ian to see Mark Herron he told us that the best way to get ‘Woaksie’ back in action was to reduce the swelling in his ankle as quickly as possible and it certainly did that impressively."
The system provides various wraps designed for specific parts of the body, such as ankle, knee or shoulder - special wraps are designed when it is used to treat racehorses. Freezing cold water is then passed from the main machine to a network of small tubes in the wrap which also pulsates – contracting and compressing the injured area at variable pressures.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Herron, a member of Birmingham’s Foot and Ankle Clinic based at BMI Priory, added: "The bleeding and tissue damage produced by an injury starts a cascade of swelling and inflammation which is actually all part of the natural healing process.
"The problem is that this response can go into overdrive which results in prolonged swelling and pain which can lead to many months of restriction. The severest cases may well need surgery and then another round of rehabilitation to get back to sport.
"This system utilises the principles of cold and pressure but intelligently combined in a very effective unit. It really has revolutionised the rehabilitation process by significantly speeding up recovery times for soft tissue ankle trauma such as occurred in Chris’ case."
Open an account with bet365 today and qualify for up to £200 in free bets with our fantastic 100% Deposit Bonus.