How to Use Splinting to Avoid Joint Contractures
Splinting is yet another technique in the proverbial tool box that medical providers can use to decrease the rink of joint contractors in the limb loss population.
Occupational therapists are extensively trained to create and design customized splints for all joints of the body. Typically, they use materials that become pliable when heated and increase their firmness when cooled, allowing for a completely personal fit with each splint. The splints can be secured with velcro straps in areas that improve joint mobility and/or move the joint into the desired position.
The benefit of these splints lies in their versatility. They can be removed for showering or to complete activities of daily living that may not otherwise be completed. They can have built in hinges that improve the flexion of a joint for several hours or days and then adjust to improve extension. In the same manner, a joint that is splinted to promote joint extension can have a hinge attached or be remolded to increase the desired extension easily.
If the medical provider is not well versed in the art of splint creation, it is easy to use a Sam Splint with velcro straps to position the limb in angles to avoid contractors. Splints can be as rudimentary or as elaborate as necessary as long as the joint is positioned safety to avoid contractors and the splints are careful not to create skin breakdown.
When designing and implementing a splint wear schedule, it is important to frequently check the skin to maintain the appropriate integrity and avoid skin break down.
If you have not yet noticed a theme, prolonged positioning continues to be the best method to avoid joint contractors. Splinting provides another method to create these positions comfortably and allows for increased levels of function.