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3 min read

First aid: treating bumps, bruises and sprains

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Even the most safety-conscious school can’t eliminate the risk of students suffering bumps, bruises and sprain injuries. So, when these injuries occur, what is the best way to treat them?

Crucially, all schools must have designated first aiders who are trained and ready to give medical care to students. Also, whether they are first aiders or not, all staff should know the basics of how to care for students with minor injuries. For example, this includes being familiar with the care technique known as RICE, which is used to ease pain, reduce swelling and speed up healing when people experience sprains or strains.

In this post, we take a look at RICE and how it can be used to treat these types of minor injuries in school. We also offer suggestions on how to advise the parents and carers of injured students.

What does RICE mean in first aid?


Rice stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevate

Rest simply means stopping any activities or exercises and trying to avoid putting weight on the affected area. This is to avoid causing further damage.

Ice refers to using an ice pack to cool the area and limit swelling. This should be applied to the injury for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours. Ice packs should never be applied directly to the skin - instead, wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel first.

Compression means wrapping a bandage around the injured area to provide extra support and help prevent further injury.

Elevate refers to keeping the affected area raised as much as possible. For example, if a student has sprained their leg, you could encourage them to sit in a comfortable chair and provide them with a footrest that keeps their leg in an elevated position.

How to treat a minor sprain or bump at school

If a student in your school suffers a minor sprain or bump, it’s important to act quickly to make sure they get the best care possible. Here are some of the steps that staff members should take:

  1. Quickly survey the scene to make sure the area where the accident happened is safe.
  2. Encourage the injured student to sit down if they can.
  3. Use the RICE care techniques outlined above.
  4. Record the injury using your online incident recording software.
  5. Inform the parents or carers of the child about the injury using your first aid and health management software.
  6. Provide information to the student's parents or carers on how to look after the injury at home.

The way you deal with injuries will, of course, differ somewhat depending on the type of injury suffered. For example, in the case of bruising injuries, you may not have to go through all the steps of RICE, but it is important to raise and support the affected area and to hold something cold, such as an ice pack, against it for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, as we outlined in a previous blog post, there are certain specific steps you should take if a student suffers a minor head injury.

How to treat a minor sprain or bump in 6 steps

How to advise parents whose child has had a minor injury

To ensure the student gets the best possible care for their injury at home, you can provide parents and carers with information on how to aid their recovery.

For instance, it’s advisable to avoid using heat (such as heat packs or hot baths) for the first couple of days after a sprain or strain-type injury to help prevent swelling. Also, parents should keep an eye on any bandages for tightness in case swelling increases or decreases, and compression bandages should be removed before the child goes to bed.

To begin with, the student should carry on resting and elevating the injury as much as possible. However, once they can move the affected area without experiencing pain, they should be encouraged to keep it moving so that the muscle or joint doesn’t become stiff.

Typically, most sprains and strains feel better within a couple of weeks, but if a child is in pain or the injury doesn’t seem to be improving parents or carers might want to speak to a pharmacist to see what treatment options are available. Or, if the pain is very bad or getting worse, there is significant bruising or swelling, or the child has a high temperature or feels hot and shivery, it is important to speak to a doctor.

To discover more about how Medical Tracker can help to improve the first aid provision in your school and make it a safer place for students, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts today.

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