Our custom splints at HPT are made by Sally Oxley, PT, CHT, OCS, Cert. MDT, Certified Hand Therapist. Just like it sounds the splint is made specifically with the anatomy of the particular patient and the purpose of the splint in mind. Splints are made to support a joint while it heals, to immobilize a joint or to actually restore motion to a stiff joint, or to position a joint for optimum healing. Custom splints are usually made out of a light thermoplastic material that is heated and molded to the patient’s limb. They are fitted to the patient allowing accommodation to variations is anatomy, alignment of joints and swelling.
Categories of splints: Static – static splints have no moving parts. The purpose of this type of splint is to immobilize, protect and position tissues while they heal. Examples may be functional position splints that allow healing of tissues preventing unwanted contractures during the healing phase, fracture splints and splints that rest inflamed tendons or joints.
Dynamic splints – these splints have a static base with elastic forces applied through custom-made components that move joints and soft tissues in a certain direction at a pre-determined force. Rubber bands and elastic cords are used to apply the forces. Dynamic splints encourage movement of the involved stiff joints and tissues while correcting, positioning or aligning them. The fit of a dynamic splint is critical to avoid forces that are too strong for the affected tissues.
Static progressive splints – These splints also start with a static base. Adjustable force is applied through the use of inelastic components such as Velcro tape, static lines, progressive hinges and turnbuckles, or screws. The purpose is to position the stiff joint as close to end range as possible and apply a light force to increase the length of the shortened tissue. With this type of splint the patient increases the force as the joint moves within their own tolerance.
The fabrication of a custom splint is often a complex endeavor. The hand therapist must apply scientific anatomical, mechanical and psychological principles to fabricate a splint that will be accepted by the patient and effective in meeting the goals of treatment.
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