The wonderful thing about a splint is that it is effective, inexpensive and has very few associated problems. A splint is designed to immobilise and to preserve alignment. When you have sustained an injury, most commonly a soft tissue injury, a splint is often used. Soft tissue injuries relate to muscles, tendons and ligaments, as opposed to bones. A splint may be used in any number of conditions or post-operative support. For Phill, he needed a splint when he sustained a tendon and artery damage and had to have that damage surgically repaired. For others, a splint might be because of carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, as opposed to surgical reasons. Irrespective, the purpose is the same – to immobile and to align.
A splint is easier to live with than a plaster as well. Fewer problems with hygiene and activities of daily living, such as showering. It can come off from time to time, provided your treating doctor gives you the ok. This means that the injury or problem area is accessible for therapy and assessment, as required. Also, as you progressively improve, the splint can be worn less. For example, a splint may only be worn at night or during high risk activities that places you at risk of re-injury. This is beneficial as compared to a plaster, as a plaster is either on or it is off.
However, there are some tricks to properly caring for a splint. While problems with a splint are few and far between, there is no doubt that it comes with some problems. Phill has experienced that already with developing a pressure injury at one point where the splint was applying a little too much pressure at the skin and rubbing. Also, while managing hygiene is easier with a splint than a cast, there can be times that it is difficult. For example, when your treating doctor has determined that the splint cannot be removed, then cleaning the limb adequately is a problem. The result is a smelly splint. Worse, the result can be skin that is compromised and deteriorates, particularly in the aged who have thin, paper-like skin.
In this Nurse on the Go Video, Phill talks about the principles of how to care for a splint so that you can avoid any of the very few problems that can crop up from a splint.
Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google