14 May Are you splinting up with me?
When someone is initially immobilized by a thermoplastic splint, cast or a brace, the last thing they would assume is that they would become reliant upon wearing it. Yet, time and time again our hand therapists see patients who are nervous about moving on from their splint.
For some patients, the feeling of being free can be daunting. Sometimes they are instantly reminded of the cause of the injury or condition. Often they feel nervous about venturing back out into the world without their hand or wrist being supported.
Don’t get us wrong, at Melbourne Hand Rehab, we love splints. They allow us to rest an overused hand, let damaged bones heal, and help tendons reattach. They’re also quite fun to make. However, like all good things, they’re not forever, and it is important to know when its time to say goodbye.
The time will come in your therapy where you have to say good buy to your plastic best friend. Sure, it’s going to feel strange, and there will be a temptation to keep it, but letting it go is an important part of the hand therapy journey.
The reason for this is that there are risks to over-wearing your splint. Wearing your splint for too long can lead to problems like stiffness, increased risk of pressure sores and maceration on the skin. It can also make it more and more difficult to get rid of it down the track.
So why do people become so attached to their splints?
There is no singular reason why patients become so attached to their splints. However, there are certainly things that a therapist and their patient can do to prevent an over-attachment in the first place.
For a hand therapist, making an estimated timeline of how long the splint will be needed when the splint first goes on will start the countdown. Everyone’s condition is different, so sometimes these timelines car vary a little, but generally communicating an intended end-point with the patient will prepare them for getting rid of that wonderful piece of plastic.
For the patient, accepting what the therapies has told you and trusting their judgement is always a great start. Completing the exercises that a therapist has given you will also help to build confidence. Very rarely will a therapist ever go from expecting you to wear the splint full tome to not wearing it at all. So, if your therapist suggests that you take your splint off for light activities, make sure you take that opportunity.
As hand therapists we love splints, and we hope that you appreciate the benefits of them too. However, for the benefit of your body, you need to trust us when we say, “it’s time to split up with your splint”.