Splint (medicine)

Splint (medicine)

Capener finger splint

A splint is a device used for support or immobilization of a limb or the spine. It can be used in multiple situations, including temporary immobilization of potentially broken bones or damaged joints and support for joints during activity.


  • By the emergency medical services or by volunteer first responders, to temporarily immobilize a fractured limb before transportation;
  • By allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and orthotists, to immobilize an articulation (e.g. the knee) that can be freed while not standing (e.g. during sleep);
  • By athletic trainers to immobilize an injured bone or joint to facilitate safer transportation of the injured person; or
  • By emergency room (ER) physicians to stabilize fractures or sprains until follow-up appointment with an orthopedist.


In most ERs, a fiberglass splinting material, called Orthoglass, is commonly used for several reasons.

  • It is clean, unlike most plaster splinting materials.
  • It comes in rolls and can be easily measured and cut according to the patient's dimensions.
  • It comes pre-padded, which saves time and energy trying to roll out padding.
  • It dries in about 20 minutes, and there are no risks for burns involved.

Commonly used splints

Illustration of an Ankle Stirrup Splint

Assisted cough technique

Commonly used after surgery to provide support to an incised area and decrease pain on coughing.

While the patient attempts to cough the area is braced by the patient (or assistant) using pillow, folded blanket or extended hand placed over the incision.

Gentle pressure is applied for bracing only during the attempt to cough.


Different forms of the splint have been used sparingly throughout history; however, the splint gained great popularity as a medical device during the French and Indian War. Generally consisting of two small wooden planks, the splint was commonly tied around the fracture with rope, cloth, or even rawhide during frontier times in American history. To this day, the splint is commonly used to secure small fractures and breaks. (See, for example, Henry Gassett Davis.)

See also

External links

  • Home Treatment for Finger, Hand & Wrist Injuries on WebMD
  • Cast & Splint Care Tips on WebMD