30 November 2010
1:30-5:30pm 4 hours
Accumulated Hours: 53
CHT's need to know how to build splints; Nicole builds splints almost every session for current patients, patients straight from the doctor, and begins most therapy sessions with creating a customized splint. Splints are created to restrict areas of the hand from moving or to serve as a constant stretch, and are made for patients after surgery, injuries, or to restrict movement in order to decrease pain from arthritis, carpal tunnel, etc. Nicole begins any splint by making an outline to the patient's hand with a paper towel. From there she cuts out the paper towel shape and puts it onto splint material, generally a plastic that heats to a softer material, molds to a figure, and cools in the new form. She puts this plastic in a hot bath to soften it up and cuts away excess material when it is warmed. Then, the splint is molded to the patient's hand and adjustments are made as needed. The edges of the splint are rounded with a heat gun for comfort and velcro straps are applied with a heat gun to strap the patient's hand in place. The hand is first covered with a cotton sock before the splint is placed in order to decrease discomfort caused from the contact of plastic on direct skin. Splints are created in heat and thus should not be exposed to any amount of heat hotter than the hand can handle; splints will melt in the dishwasher or if left on the dashboard of a car on a sunny day. Splints are custom made and thus patient's are encouraged to call and have them adjusted due to any discomfort they experience.
Today, Nicole's patients cancelled during the time I was there so she gave me several large textbooks on the anatomy and therapy applied to the upper extremeties that she owned in college. It was very interesting to look through the diagrams provided in these books; I learned how tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscles are located and used--very important things to understand for physical therapy.