Custom splinting is the process of using temperature-sensitive thermoplastics that mobilize or immobilize body structures for the purpose of promoting healing or function. Occupational hand therapists are the experts in making these custom splints for the patients.
Here’s a detailed overview of custom splints, their types, manufacturing, the conditions that are treated with custom splinting, how custom splints provide relief to these conditions and the benefits of custom splinting:
What are the types of custom splints?
There are three common types of splints that include:
- Static Splints
- Dynamic Splints
- Static Progressive Splints
These types of splints contain no moving parts. A custom wrist splint is an example of static splints, which is used to treat wrist sprain by holding the wrist stable. The basic purpose of static splints is to provide rest, protection, positioning and immobilizing the affected body part. These splints help in healing the injuries and reducing the pain. From time to time, static splints are reshaped again and again to increase the motion and to decrease the tightness.
These types of splints contain moving parts that help to stretch the joints or allow the patient to do controlled exercises when wearing these splints. It is the foremost responsibility of a hand therapist to ensure that the amount of force applied in dynamic splints is appropriate. When the force is too much high, it can lead to skin breakdown.
Static Progressive Splints:
These types of splints are used to apply force/stretch to a tight joint in an adjustable manner. The part of this splint that stretches a joint can gradually increase the stretch because a patient can easily tolerate a stretch. A hand therapist often needs to adjust these splints frequently to make sure that the angle of a stretch is correct. The basic purpose of static progressive splints is to improve the motion of a joint that is stiffed.
How are custom splints made?
A lot of skill and practice is required to manufacture a custom splint. As the splint needs to be fitted to a particular anatomy of every patient, the first step is to create a pattern that is then used to cut out an outline from a sheet of a hard thermoplastic. After that, this pattern is heated to over 160 degrees that make the temperature-sensitive material malleable. When this material cools down, it is placed and molded directly on a patient that gives a perfect fit according to the patient’s curves and contours.
What conditions are treated with custom splinting?
The most common group of conditions that are treated with custom splinting is the repetitive use disorders. The most important conditions include:
- Tennis Elbow: It is a painful condition in which the tendons of the elbow are overloaded commonly due to the repetitive motions of the arm and wrist.
- Golfer’s Elbow: This condition causes pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles are attached to a bony bump on the inside of the elbow. The pain spreads to the wrist and forearm.
- De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: It is a painful condition that affects the tendons located on the thumb side of the wrist. The main symptom of this condition is pain and swelling at the thumb’s base.
- Trigger Finger: It is also a painful condition that causes stiffness and a sensation of catching or locking when a person bends or straightens one of the fingers. Trigger finger mostly affects the ring finger and thumb but other fingers can also be affected by this condition.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: It is the most common condition that causes pain, tingling and numbness in the hand and arm.
There are also many other conditions that need the treatment of custom splinting. Wearing a custom splint prevents the movement of the affected joint which allows the affected structures to be in rest and along with the other hand therapy programs; an underlying condition can be treated.
In most surgical procedures related to either hand or arm, the positioning of the healing structures after the surgery can be a serious matter. A custom splint is used to place the hand or arm in a proper position so that the integrity of the surgery can be protected and affected structures can be healed properly. With the passage of time, the splint can be cut down for allowing more movement as the healing progresses.
The condition of degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis can also be treated with custom splinting. A custom splint is commonly used to treat the condition when osteoarthritis affects the carpometacarpal or CMC joint – this joint is located at the base of the thumb. Most of the people use CMC joint very frequently, especially those whom occupations require a forceful use of the thumb. With time, this joint breaks down that lead to joint instability and painful partial dislocation. A custom splint is used to provide the external support that the thumb needs in place of the internal support that the joint no longer provides. With the use of a splint, the patients get immediate relief from the pain.
How custom splints provide relief to the underlying condition?
Custom splints can be used to treat any particular medical condition or disorder so that there will be a quick recovery process. They are also used to provide healing to the affected structures after an injury or surgery. Custom-made splints can be simply modified according to any desired changes. They are fabricated to perfectly fit the arm or hand of each patient. Custom splints provide relief to the underlying condition by:
- Decreasing the pain
- Supporting the healing process
- Increasing the movement
- Promoting efficient use of the arm or hand
- Helping to prevent the deformities
- Allowing an increase or decrease in inflammation as the body heals
What are the benefits of custom splinting?
Here are some of the most important benefits of custom splints:
- They are manufactured according to the anatomy of the body of each patient for getting optimum results.
- They can be detached to help with bathing and wound care.
- They can be bent to provide optimum comfort and adjusted to the bodily changes as the swelling lessens.
Find the best custom splinting treatment at Hand In Hand OT LI:
The experienced, skilled and American board-certified occupational therapists in Centereach, NY provide custom splinting to treat the upper extremity disorders (hand, elbow, wrist, shoulder). They fabricate the custom-made splints according to the needs and conditions of each and every patient. At Hand In Hand Occupational Therapy Of LI, the hand therapists offer custom splints to improve the overall quality of the patient’s life and to help the patient in doing the day-to-day activities comfortably. For booking an online appointment, visit the website or call (631) 760-7800