OT and Custom Splints: Keeping It Straight!

April is National Occupational Therapy Month! To kick it off, we wanted to dive into one of the most adaptable aspects of occupational therapy-splinting! A splint is a device worn on an affected area and can be used to immobilize, mobilize, restrict, support, or protect a body part.

What is OT, you ask?

Occupational Therapy is a rehabilitation discipline focused on maximizing one’s independence performing meaningful tasks. That means that we can treat you for problems you have when performing daily activities, work duties, or even leisurely pursuits and make these tasks easier for you. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

What can OTs treat?

In our clinics, we see many different types of complaints including, but not limited to pain and weakness in any joint or area of the arm and shoulder, fractures of any part of the arm, rotator cuff injuries, shoulder pain with scapular dysfunction, nerve injuries/palsies, and many more. OTs can even conduct driver assessments and wheelchair evaluations. We also go beyond physical treatment and can help enable people with cognitive impairments including cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the list goes on. For a full list of everything our OTs can treat, check out our diagnoses list!

How do OTs treat?

Our treatments usually involve a combination of exercise, activity practice, activity modification, and massage/manual therapy. Each session will be adjusted to meet your specific needs that day to ensure that you are getting the most out of every appointment. Also, you will have an individualized home exercise program to continue your progress when you are not in the clinic. And of course, our treatments are interactive and fun!

Splints

You have probably seen splints in stores such as CVS and Walgreens. However, they often don’t do the job quite right and that’s where custom splinting comes in! Our occupational therapists are trained to make a variety of finger, hand, wrist, and elbow splints that are customized for each condition and individual. The process is relatively simple and can be done during your first visit with a prescription. Most people find our custom splints more comfortable than those bought at a store. And even better, our custom splints are covered by most insurances!

Common diagnoses that our therapists make splints for include:

  •         Carpal tunnel syndrome
  •         Wrist sprain
  •         Wrist clicking
  •         Carpal instability
  •         Thumb arthritis
  •         Trigger finger
  •         Mallet finger
  •         Tennis elbow
  •         All types of fractures

We will fully assess your condition and needs to determine the best splint and adjust it for your unique needs!

The Splinting Process

The process of making a splint is surprisingly quick and easy! First, our therapists will perform a full assessment of your condition and what you need to do. Then, we will design a paper pattern for the splint sketching around your arm and try it on to ensure it meets your unique needs. Next, we will heat a special thermoplastic in warm water to make it soft. After cutting the material to match the pattern, we reheat it to a moldable, but comfortable, temperature. We will then apply the warm material to the affected area and ensure proper fit and position while the splint cools and firms (most people really enjoy how warm this feels!) Finally, we will fine-tune the splint to maximize comfort and add Velcro straps. Most splints only take 15-20 minutes to make!

 

OT making custom splint

Jon, OTR/L, making a custom splint in our clinic.

 

If you have any problems with a finger, hand, wrist, or elbow, then you should call in and ask to speak with one of our Occupational Therapists. We can discuss your specific condition, give immediate advice, and tell you if therapy, including a custom splint, is right for you. Often, we can see you in the clinic within 1-2 business days!

 

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