Synthetic Peas Soothe Injured, Achy Joints

These fake frozen peas can be used to ice up injuries. Photo credit:

Sir Isaac Newton found his inspiration in an apple. MaryCarol Dolivier found hers in a bag of frozen peas.

After Dolivier tumbled down a flight of stairs a few years ago she was forced to lay on the couch for several weeks, a bag of frozen peas propped on her swollen knee.

The bag leaked when it melted. When she refroze it, the peas formed a lumpy iceberg. The squishy mess they became when microwaved made them a totally unacceptable choice for heat therapy.

Dolivier knew she could do better.

Along with her partner, Arthur Blackwood, Dolivier invented Frozenpeaz, green-tinted, pea-shaped glass beads that heat and cool a lot like… well, frozen peas.

"If you just get a simple bump or bruise, we are not what you are looking for," Dolivier said. "But if you're serious about sports or if you have a chronic injury or you are someone who is relying on hot and cold therapy on a regular basis, a bag of peas simply will not do."

The $65 Frozenpeaz kit improves upon a $.74 bag of frozen peas in the follow ways: It can cool or heat an injured area for up to 30 minutes with no messiness or mushiness. It can be reused without losing shape or effectiveness. It includes an attractive wrap that conforms to any body part, three bags of peaz, a Velcro strap to hold it in place and an insulated compression band that protects the skin from freezer burn.

This last feature is the most important one, Dolivier said, because compression is one of the basic tenets of the R.I.C.E. injury treatment protocol recommended by orthopedic specialists, along with rest, ice and elevation.

"A regular bag of peas or a conventional ice pack doesn't offer compression to help with swelling," she pointed out.

Since the virtual pea packs began selling on the internet in January, Dolivier said sales have been brisk. Beginning this fall, consumers who wish to give peaz a chance will be able to purchase them at Walgreen drugstores nationwide.