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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Splint Making for Dummies

Published May 12, 2014 10:20 AM by Debra Karplus
I wish there'd been a book called Splint Making for Dummies when I was a neophyte OT. Splint-making is challenging. When I became employed as an OT, I had only minimal experience with splints. Fortunately for me, I fabricated splints a handful of times (no pun intended). The few splints I made looked like third grade art class masterpieces gone awry.

Splints look the same as they did decades ago.

So much has changed for OTs over time. I was curious how splints might have changed; I opted to search online. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that the splints designs I found, looked similar to those from my early years as a therapist in the mid-1970s; if you positioned a resting pan splint c. 1970 beside one fabricated today, you'd have difficulty selecting the "newer" model!

I also expected that splinting materials had changed over the years. Again, I was incorrect. The same white splinting material, "theraplast", (pliable when using heat with water), that we used decades ago, appears similar to the thermoplastics used now. Stockinette, Velcro, hooks, straps and other accessories for splint- making used when I was a fledgling OT appear to be still used today.

Today's splints are fabricated like those from the past.

I had received an electric wok as a wedding gift in the mid- 70s, which, when containing hot water was great for making splints; the heated water made the splinting material warm and flexible. But in some clinics where I had worked, the steel container that kept hot packs hot, also doubled as a source for hot water required for shaping theraplast into a functional splint. Certainly, the process of splint-making had become more sophisticated, but again I was surprised that the process of making static splints was, well, static!

Learning how to create a splint is now just a click away.

Though today's splints appear similar to those I made for patients as a neophyte OT, the internet has brought some changes. Suppose you want to see how other people make splints. Search online; you'll discover numerous videos, some amateur, and others more professional, that show the steps to make a splint.

Your expertise in splint-making is no longer essential.

If fabricating a splint is just not your thing, I learned that not only can one purchase precut splinting material; they also sell kits which include all the hardware and other accessories.

No doctor's order, no problem!

We'd have to wait for a doctor's order before making a splint, but not anymore. I viewed the website of a major exclusively-online retailer that currently sells a resting pan splint for sixty-eight dollars, and receives four and a half stars from consumer reviews; the splints I used to make might have earned only two stars. A well-known pharmacy store sells wrist splints for about twenty-five dollars.  Another large popular retail discount chair sells wrist splints, only sixteen dollars. Today's younger therapists have many more options for static splints they we older gals had.

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