Prevention of Hand Deformities With Resting Splints

Prevention of Hand Deformities With Resting Splints

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Finger splints prevent deformity as an injury heals.

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Resting splints are used to prevent hand deformities associated with neurological conditions, burns, arthritic disease and orthopedic injuries. Research has not proven resting splints prevent hand deformity for neurological conditions, but these devices can prevent hand deformity after burns and orthopedic injury and in some cases of arthritis.


Strokes occur when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted, causing damage to the affected area. This often results in partial or complete paralysis of the hand on the opposite side of the body from the brain location of the stroke. Because the hand is not being used, muscles become tight and hand deformities can develop.

Therapists frequently apply resting splints to a patient's hand immediately after a stroke, while the patient is still in the hospital, to prevent hand deformities. According to a cross-sectional survey published in 2011 in the "Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice," current research does not demonstrate that splinting is effective for these patients. Researchers who conducted a study involving 63 stroke patients reported in a January 2007 article published in "Stroke" that wrist splinting for 4 weeks did not reduce muscle shortening in the wrist. However, use of resting splints continues to be a common practice among stroke rehabilitation therapists.


Splinting is crucial in preventing hand deformities after a serious burn injury. A splint is typically applied on the first day of treatment. You may need to wear a resting splint for several months to prevent a hand deformity from developing as your skin heals.

Resting splints must be worn at all times, with the exception of activities that cannot be performed with the splint on and brief removal for finger and hand exercises. Trained professionals make custom splints to place the hand in a gently stretched position to prevent deformities as scar tissue develops.


Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are progressive diseases that commonly erode the joints of the fingers and hand. This can lead to deformities that significantly affect how much you can use your hands. Resting splints provide support to painful joints and position them in proper alignment.

Custom-molded resting splints made of thermoplastic materials are fitted by trained occupational and physical therapists to hold the hand in a comfortable position. Ring splints go around affected finger joints to hold the bones in proper alignment. According to a June 2008 article in "Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine," splinting, along with hand therapy, helped 23 of 33 arthritis patients avoid surgery over a period of 7 years.


Orthopedics injuries, such as fractures, can lead to hand deformities. Resting splints may help prevent a hand deformity as a fractured bone heals. Resting splints place the hand in a specific position -- the wrist bent backward to approximately 20 degrees, the large knuckles bent at approximately 60 degrees and the small finger joints straight -- to prevent the ligaments that hold the bones together from shortening. This is important because shortened ligaments can significantly impact your ability to make a fist and perform daily activities after the bone is healed and the splint is removed. Resting splints are needed until the bone is healed, typically around 4 weeks.


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