Splint Devices: Uses, DIY Versions, Care, and More

2023-02-15 19:07:46 By : Mr. Jiang Mr.

Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT  is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience in a variety of healthcare settings.

"Splint" is a general term used to describe a removable device that temporarily immobilizes a joint after injury. However, splints can also be used to increase motion in a stiff joint. These devices vary in materials from soft to rigid and can be applied to different joints in the arms and legs. Copper Bbq Mat

Splint Devices: Uses, DIY Versions, Care, and More

This article discusses the difference between a splint and a cast, injuries that require a splint, types of splints, fitting and maintenance of these devices, and general healing time frames for common injuries treated with a splint.

For medical billing and coding purposes, a splint is the same as a cast and is used to immobilize a broken or dislocated bone. In this context, a removable splint is referred to as an orthosis.

The term "splint" is also sometimes used to describe an injury—such as shin splints, which is pain along the bone at the front of the lower leg (shinbone).

The most common use of a splint is immobilizing an injured body part while it heals. It can also reduce pain with movement that can occur with chronic conditions.

Injuries that often require a splint include:

Some types of fractures can be splinted rather than cast—particularly if the bones are still in proper alignment. Finger and toe fractures are also commonly splinted.

Splints can also help reduce the risk of joint or muscle contractures (a shortening and tightening of muscle fibers that reduces flexibility).

The biggest difference between a splint and a cast is that a splint can be easily removed and reapplied. Casts have to be cut with a cast saw for removal.

Additional benefits of a splint vs. cast include:

There are many different types of splints. Common examples include:

Splints can be made out of a variety of materials, including:

Splints can be categorized as static, static progressive, or dynamic, as follows:

Depending on what body part is affected and the type of splint you need, you'll get a prefabricated or custom splint, as follows:

A healthcare provider usually fits splints. An emergency medical technician (EMT) might apply a splint in an emergency. But there are also several ways you can make a temporary splint if you are alone or need to assist someone else who has been injured.

An injured limb can temporarily be splinted using a stick, board, folded magazine, rolled piece of clothing, or other firm object. The splint can be secured with a necktie, belt, pieces of cloth, or tape.

Make sure you can slip a finger between the limb and the ties to avoid cutting off blood flow to the injured area. Then, seek immediate medical attention

While there are many benefits of using a splint, these devices require some maintenance and special care.

A variety of complications can arise while using a splint, such as:

Call your healthcare provider if you have increased pain, numbness or tingling, or skin color changes in the splinted area.

Depending on the injury, your healthcare provider might allow you to remove your splint for bathing and showering. However, many times, this isn't an option. You'll need to wrap your splint with a waterproof material, such as a plastic bag, to keep it dry.

The healing timeline and the length of time that splint use is required varies by the type and severity of your injury, as well as your age and overall health.

Fractures can heal as quickly as a few weeks or can take several months or more. Tendon ruptures typically heal within six to 12 weeks after surgery. Some chronic conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can require long-term, intermittent splint use when symptoms flare up.

Splints are devices temporarily used to immobilize an injured body part while it heals. They can also be used to increase range of motion in stiff joints. Splints can help treat fractures, muscle or tendon injuries, nerve compression conditions, and arthritis.

Healthcare professionals typically fit them, but some are available off-the-shelf. Splints might only be needed for a few weeks or as long as several months, depending on the severity of your condition.

American Society of Hand Therapists. Coding.

Emergency Medicine Residents' Association. Splinting techniques.

Bhave A, Sodhi N, Anis HK, et al. Static progressive stretch orthosis—consensus modality to treat knee stiffness—rationale and literature review. Ann Transl Med. 2019;7(Suppl 7):S256. doi:10.21037/atm.2019.06.55

American Society for Surgery of the Hand. What is a custom orthosis?

National Library of Medicine. How to make a splint.

American Academy of Family Physicians. Principles of casting and splinting.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Fractures (broken bones).

National Library of Medicine. Tendon repair.

By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living. 

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Splint Devices: Uses, DIY Versions, Care, and More

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