A splint is a device used for holding a part of the body stable and motionless to decrease pain and prevent further injury.
Splints can be used for many different injuries. Any time there is a broken bone, stabilizing the area is important.
1. Care for all wounds first before applying a splint.
2. An injured body part should usually be splinted in the position in which it was found.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Check the area of the injured body part frequently for swelling, paleness, or numbness. If necessary, loosen the splint.
7. Seek professional medical attention.
DO NOT make any attempts to change the position of, or realign an injured body part. Be careful when you place a split to avoid causing more injuries. Be sure to pad the splint well to avoid putting extra pressure on the injured limb.
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
- 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.
The purpose of a splint is to 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.
Safety is the best way to avoid broken bones caused by falling. Some diseases make bones break easier, so extreme caution should be used when assisting a person with fragile bones.
Avoid activities that strain the muscles or bones for long periods of time as these can cause fatigue and falls. Always use proper protective gear, such as proper footwear, pads, braces, and helmets.
Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007.
Buttaravoli P, ed. Minor Emergencies. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007.
Review Date: 7/10/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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