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Custom Splinting

Custom Splinting

Custom splints orthoses are constructed by hand therapists. They can be made from a thermoplastic material that is heated in warm water and molded to custom fit each individual. These custom splints / orthoses can be used to rest or protect a painful joint, post-surgical soft tissue structure like tendon / nerve / arteries / vain and hard tissue like bone and joints. It provides stability to a painful joint of the hand and increase pain free functional use to the rest of the hand joints.

All custom splints / orthoses can be adjusted to accommodate changes in swelling or motion or healing stages that will lead to compliance with splint wear and a more successful outcome. Common diagnoses that may require a splint include fractures, dislocations, strained ligaments, torn muscles, arthritis, burns, nerve injuries, repetitive strain disorders, and after tendon surgery.

Common reasons to use splint are to increase functional use of arm or hand, increase or maintain range of motion, neuromuscular re-education, protect healing of fractures, tendons or nerves, relieve pain and prevent or correct deformities.

At a splint appointment, the therapist will get a brief history from the patient injury, and then the splint is fabricated during the appointment based on the physician/hand specialist referral and patient diagnosis. Typically, the splint is completed by the end of the appointment.

How does it help?

After injury or surgery, splinting can help you rest injured tissues and prevent deformities from developing as you heal. While in a splint, your range of motion for a particular joint is either restricted or prevented completely. It can decrease pain and swelling for both injuries and chronic conditions, as well as protecting the area from further soft tissue or neurovascular damage.

Along with fitting you for a splint, your therapist will also provide instructions on when to wear it and for how long.

Conditions treated with splinting

Splinting can be used to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions. It’s often used as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan involving other types of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Common conditions treated with splinting include:

  • Boutonnière and swan neck deformities
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gamekeeper’s or skier’s thumb (UCL tear)
  • Fingers fractures
  • Ligament sprains or instabilities
  • Mallet finger
  • Boxer fracture
  • Osteoarthritis of thumb or other hand joints
  • Post-surgical tendon repair
  • Repetitive strain injuries of hand
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Thumb fractures
  • Thumb tendinopathy
  • Trigger finger
  • Wrist fractures
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Why get a custom splint made?

The splints are fabricated out of low-grade thermoplastic material. The material gets soft in hot water and will mold to the patient’s hand making it a more comfortable fit than a pre-fabricated splint. These splints are also fully adjustable if the patient experiences any discomfort while wearing it.

Types of splints

Immobilization or resting splints

This splint is used to immobilize a joint and / or ligaments while the tissues heal. It prevents movement by keeping the injured area in a protected resting posture.

Mobilization splints

This splint is used to improve motion in stiff joints by applying a passive stretch to the joint and surrounding tissues. It’s often used in combination with range of motion and stretching exercises that are prescribed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Static splints

This splint is used to provide support and a proper posture during daily activities and while you rest.

4 types of finger splints

Finger splints are used to keep these vulnerable extremities in place while you heal from a finger sprain or break, or to help increase a limited range of motion from a chronic condition.

There are four main types of finger splints.

Buddy splints

Buddy splints involve taping two fingers together, above and below the injured joint. They are often used for injuries less serious than a fracture, such as when you jam your finger.

Dynamic splints

Dynamic splints are more complex, designed to stretch a joint with an adjustable, spring-loaded system. They’re often worn at night or while you’re resting, rather than during daily activities.

Stack splints

Stack splints treat injuries involving only the tip of your finger. They fit over the end of your finger and go down just past the first joint, so it can’t bend.

Static splints

Static finger splints hold your joint in a specific position, either completely straight or slightly bent. They’re often used to treat repetitive use injuries, fractures and tendon damage.

Custom Splinting

Splinting vs. casting

While both are used to support and protect injuries to the bone, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues, splints and casts are quite different. Casts are hard wraps that go all the way around an injury and cannot be removed without a doctor or other healthcare professional. On the other hand, splints may include a hard part, but it won’t wrap all the way around the injury. Splints can be removed or adjusted easily.

Your doctor and/or hand therapist will advise you which is right for your injury.

Splint vs. brace

Essentially, there is no difference between a splint and a brace; the words can be used interchangeably. Sometimes a splint is also called an orthosis. A splint or brace is a device used to hold a body part still after an injury or surgery.

Custom vs Over-the-counter splints

It’s not hard to walk into the nearest drugstore and find an array of over-the-counter splints that can be purchased. While you may think you can dodge more expensive medical costs by purchasing one, it will end up causing more harm than good. Most over-the-counter splints are created with a one-size-fits-all approach in mind. However, each person and each injury is unique, and they need customized care to achieve optimal healing.

Do I need a referral?

Anyone can refer a client for splinting. You can also self-refer, your hand therapist letter will work to cover of the cost of the splint under your extended health insurance plan. Always contact your health insurance provider to ask this question before you book

Wake up with numb hands at night? Experiencing difficulties with your thumbs due to arthritis? Customized hand or forearm-based splints can help! At Regain Health Centre our hand therapist works with you to provide you with a custom splint that fits your lifestyle.

How long should I wear a splint?

Sometimes a splint has been applied and the injury starts to feel better. We are often asked the question: How long should I wear the splint? It depends on the type and severity of injury. Bone, tendon, ligament, and muscle all heal at different rates. It is the therapist’s job to assess the different tissues involved in an injury or surgery, and prescribe the correct length of splinting. Removing a splint too early can cause re-injury. Wearing a splint too long can cause stiffness, weakness, and even a worsening of pain. A consultation with a therapist can help clarify the injury and how long a splint should be worn.

If you have questions about splinting for the elbow, wrist, hand, ankle, or knee request an appointment with us for an evaluation.

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