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How to make a splint

A splint is a device used for holding a part of the body stable to decrease pain and prevent further injury.

Alternative Names

Splint - instructions

Considerations

The purpose of a splint is to hold still and protect a wounded body part from further damage until you get medical help. It is important to check for good circulation after the injured body part has been immobilized.

Commercial splints are often used to immobilize a body part in the treatment of various disorders.

Causes

Splints can be used for many different injuries. Any time there is a broken bone , stabilizing the area is important.

First Aid

  • Care for all wounds first before applying a splint.
  • An injured body part should usually be splinted in the position in which it was found, unless you have been treated by a professional who is a specialist in that area.
  • Find something rigid to use as supports to make the splint such as sticks, boards, or even rolled up newspapers. If none can be found, use a rolled blanket or clothing. An injured body part can also be taped to an uninjured body part in order to prevent it from moving. For example, you can tape an injured finger to the finger next to it to keep it immobile.
  • Extend the splint beyond the injured area in order to keep it from moving. In general, try to include the joint above and below the injury in the splint.
  • Secure the splint with ties (belts, cloth strips, neckties, etc.), or tape above and below the injury (make sure the knots are not pressing on the injury). Avoid over-tightening which can cut off the circulation.
  • Check the area of the injured body part frequently for swelling , paleness , or numbness . If necessary, loosen the splint.
  • Seek professional medical attention.

Do Not

Do not change the position of, or realign, an injured body part. Be careful when you place a splint to avoid causing more injuries. Be sure to pad the splint well to avoid putting extra pressure on the injured limb.

If the injury is more painful after placing the splint, remove the splint and seek medical assistance immediately.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If an injury occurs while in a remote area, call for emergency medical assistance as soon as possible. In the meantime, give first aid to the patient.

The following require immediate medical help:

  • Bone that is sticking through the skin
  • Open would around the injury
  • Loss of feeling (sensation)
  • Loss of pulse or a feeling of warmth beyond the injured site

If any of these situations occur and medical assistance is not available, and the injured part looks to be abnormally bent, gently replacing the injured part back into its normal position may improve the circulation.

Prevention

Safety is the best way to avoid broken bones caused by falling. Some diseases make bones break easier, so use caution when assisting a person with fragile bones.

Avoid activities that strain the muscles or bones for long periods as these can cause fatigue and falls. Always use protective gear, such as proper footwear, pads, braces, and helmets.

References

Chudnofsky CR, Byers SE. Splinting techniques. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 50.

Kassel MR, Gianotti A. Splints and slings. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 19.

Updated: 4/16/2013

C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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