The Purpose of Splints as Part of Rehabilitation
Splinting is a skill frequently used in hand therapy. There are many reasons why splints are used as part of the therapeutic process. Over the years, the science of splinting has evolved from exclusive use of plaster paris to the consistent use of a low temperature, thermoplastic material. This material allows for a contoured and customized fit with improved comfort for the patient.
Here are just a few of the reasons why splints are used as part of the therapeutic process:
- PROTECTION: A custom splint can provide protection following surgery or injury. Immobilization can encourage healing while the ability to remove a splint periodically for active range of motion (when appropriate) allows a patient more freedom than a cast.
- REDUCTION OF PAIN AND INFLAMMATION: Symptoms from repetitive motion injuries may be decreased by placing tendons at "relative rest"
- SCAR MANAGEMENT: In traumatic injuries such as burns, splints are used to help maintain mobility and avoid shortening of muscular or connective tissue.
- JOINT PROTECTION: In a diagnosis such as arthritis, splints can be used to prevent and/or slow further joint deformity and reduce pain by assisting in joint stability.
- IMPROVING JOINT MOTION: Splints can be constructed to assist in immobilization of one joint while allowing isolated movement of another joint. Similarly, "mobilization splints" can place a stiff joint into a prolonged, low load gentle stretch to improve mobility.
The hand therapy team at MMI has over 70 years of combined splinting experience. The therapists are educated in proper splinting techniques and the ability to customize the splint to the patient's diagnosis and personal needs. In addition to collaborating with the patient's physician, hand therapists have a working knowledge of anatomy, surgical repair and injury that are necessary to provide the patient with adequate safe movement to avoid stiffness, while allowing proper protection for healing.