What are Splints?
Splints/orthotics are mechanical devices designed to support, protect and immobilize joints and/or to prevent deformity. When the injured area is immobilized, there is higher potential for effective healing as the affected area is forced to rest.
Types of splints:
Static splints – have no moving parts. The purpose of a static splint is to rest, protect, position, and immobilize the body part.
Dynamic splints – encourage the movement of the involved stiff joints and tissues while correcting, positioning, or aligning them. Dynamic splints have moving parts that stretch joints or allow controlled exercises.
Splints vs Casts:
A splint is like a cast, isn’t it? No, a common misconception is the interchangeability between splints and casts. A cast is usually made of plaster of paris (POP) and/or fiberglass, and used for longer durations, for severe injuries, and is non-removable. Casts are applied for most fractures, no matter how trivial.
Figure 1- A POP Fibreglass cast.
Figure 2- Administration of POP cast
Splints are often used after a cast to allow for some movement, while the bone regains its full strength. Splints are also prescribed post-surgery for aiding in transition to full mobility.
Figure 3- Lower limb orthosis
Figure 4- Upper limb orthosis
Splints find use in two broad injury areas:
1. Physical trauma - For soft tissue injuries and very rarely minor fractures. It prevents pain at the injury site by restricting the relative movement of bones. It also prevents the movement of bone fragments to prevent damage to nerves and blood vessels.
2. Neuro-muscular disorders - When neural pathways to muscles are damaged, “paresis” or weakness of muscles can occur. Splints can be helpful for people suffering from muscle weakness and help alleviate the pain from peripheral neuropathy. In cases of complete paralysis, loss of muscle movement and flexibility can lead to spasticity. The onset of spasticity can be prevented by using a splint to keep the muscle and joint in specific positions.
Custom splints are made of thermoplastics or metals and are customized to fit your affected limb perfectly. The advantage of custom splints is their versatility! They provide superior comfort, function, and can be modified as a person recovers. While the body heals, the splint can be adjusted to accommodate changes in swelling or motion to promote faster healing.
Figure 5- A custom fabricated splint made by an orthotist using thermoplastic sheets
Customization is performed by a therapist to fit the orthosis to a patient by thermoforming (heat-molding) thermoplastics or bending metals to shape. They are fitted to the patient allowing accommodation to variations in anatomy, alignment of joints, and swelling. Custom splints specifically meet the patient’s unique needs, which leads to effective healing.
Who Needs A Custom Splint?
A custom splint is more suitable in every case compared to off-the-counter splints. Common diagnoses that may require a custom fabricated splint include:
- Arthritis and Joint Pain
- Tendonitis (Tennis Elbow and Trigger Finger)
- Neuritis (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
- Specialized Hand Surgery
- Muscle Strain
- Joint Stiffness
What we do:
We at Cre-AID Labs collectively have over five years of experience working in this field and thus understand the importance and need for custom splinting. The only obstacles are price and accessibility. So, our team of bright and curious cre-aiders are taking it upon themselves to make a cost-effective and easily deployable custom orthotic solution - MITHRIL Splints. Created with clinical, engineering and design expertise, MITHRIL overcomes all the drawbacks of contemporary splints and provides a comfortable and functional experience to the user. At the end of the day, injuries - big or small - are always limiting yet unavoidable. If we can limit these limitations and make our recovery that much more comfortable, wouldn’t that be just swell!
Figure 6- Custom fitted MITHRIL splint being thermoformed using a heat gun. Left to right: thermoforming and final fit
So join us in our journey to usher in a new age of rehabilitation as we Innovate to Enable.
MITHRIL in action