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How to make a splint

Definition

A splint is a device used for holding a part of the body stable to decrease pain and prevent further injury.

Alternative Names

Splint - instructions

Considerations

After an injury, a splint is used to hold still and protect the 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.

Splints can be used for different injuries. Any time there is a broken bone, stabilizing the area is important.

First Aid

Here is how to make and apply a splint:

  • Care for the wound first before applying a splint.
  • An injured body part should usually be splinted in the position in which it was found, unless it has been treated by a professional who is a specialist in that body part.
  • 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.
  • Extend the splint beyond the injured area in order to keep it from moving. Try to include the joint above and below the injury in the splint.
  • Secure the splint with ties, such as belts, cloth strips, or neckties, or tape above and below the injury. Make sure the knots are not pressing on the injury. DO NOT make the ties too tight. Doing so can cut off the circulation.
  • Check the area of the injured body part often for swelling, paleness, or numbness. If needed, loosen the splint.
  • Seek medical help right away.

Do Not

DO NOT change the position of, or realign, an injured body part. Be careful when you place a splint to avoid causing more injury. Be sure to pad the splint well to avoid putting extra pressure on the injured limb.

If the injury is more painful after placing the splint, remove the splint and seek medical help right away.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If an injury occurs while in a remote area, call for emergency medical help as soon as possible. In the meantime, give first aid to the person.

Seek medical help right away for any of the following:

  • Bone that is sticking through the skin
  • An open wound around the injury
  • Loss of feeling (sensation)
  • Loss of pulse or a feeling of warmth to the injured site
  • Fingers and toes turn blue and lose sensation

If medical assistance is not available and the injured part looks abnormally bent, gently placing the injured part back into its normal position may improve the circulation.

Prevention

Safety is the best way to avoid broken bones caused by falling.

Avoid activities that strain the muscles or bones for long periods as these can cause fatigue and falls. Always use protective gear, such as proper footwear, pads, braces, and a helmet.

References

Chudnofsky CR. Splinting techniques. In: Roberts JR, ed. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 50.

Kassel MR, Gianotti A. Splints and slings. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 19.

Review Date:5/9/2015
Reviewed By:C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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