You just completed your visit with your physician. He/she has likely given you a list of dos and don’ts after your injury or surgery. How important is it to follow these rules? What could happen if these precautions are not followed? What are the long-term effects of doing too much of a good thing or doing the wrong thing?
In the blog entitled “What is a Custom Orthosis?” basic information on custom orthoses was provided. But as hand therapists we can do so much more! In this blog, different types of custom orthoses and the reason your doctor and therapist may recommend one or another will be reviewed. In general, an orthosis is a device that is molded to and worn on a specific body part. The device can help to protect and support bones, tendons, ligaments, and nerves, and keep these structures in safe and healthy positions. An orthosis can also be used to help fix deformities or help people with limitations function better. Orthoses can be used to immobilize (keep the body part and tissue still), to mobilize (move the area) or to restrict partial movement in an area.
After an injury, surgery, or onset of certain conditions, your doctor may ask you to see a hand therapist. Your prescription for therapy might include the need for a custom orthosis, commonly referred to as a brace or splint. A custom orthosis is a device that is molded to and worn on a specific body part. The device can help to protect and support bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves and keep these structures in safe and healthy positions. It can also be used to fix deformities or help people function better. It will be custom made specifically for you by your hand therapist.
Some of the reasons your doctor might prescribe a custom orthosis include:
Whether it’s an arm cast, wrist splint or finger splint, many types of casts can help your recovery from surgery or an injury. Casts are hard, made with plaster or fiberglass, while splints are lighter and can be taken on and off more easily. These are important to protecting you while your injury heals, so follow these tips to take good care of your cast or splint:
- Keep your cast or splint clean and dry. Getting it wet could irritate your skin. Cover it with a plastic bag, seal it with tape or rubber bands to keep it dry, and elevate it overhead while showering.
- Do not let dirt, sand or other materials get inside your cast or splint.
- Do not stick objects in your cast. If you feel itchy, ask your doctor for advice.
- Never attempt to trim your cast. If there are rough edges or your skin is irritated around the ends, contact your doctor.
- Contact your doctor if your cast or splint has a crack or soft spot.
- Never attempt to remove a cast yourself.
Be sure to contact your doctor if you have worsening pain, excessive swelling, numbness or tingling in your fingers, burning or stinging, or loss of movement in your fingers while wearing a cast. Learn more about casts and splints at www.HandCare.org.