[BLOG POST] Home After a Stroke: What I Learned About Splints as a Stroke Survivor

What I Learned About Splints as a Stroke Survivor

When spasticity from a stroke holds muscles in one position, muscle fibers become short which restricts motion.  Lannin (1) concluded “splinting has little or no effect on the loss of range of motion” (p. 113).  Unfortunately, Lannin told therapists to stop all passive stretching and restrict active hand exercises to 10 minutes a day.  So the data does not tell us if a resting night splint is a useful addition to standard therapy.

I wondered what would happen if I continued to do passive stretching and active hand exercises, but stopped wearing my resting splint at night.  After a month of not wearing this splint I could feel my thumb getting tighter.  I resumed wearing my splint and the next morning I woke up with a wicked ache in my thumb.  My thumb is tight by bedtime so my splint has not eliminated spasticity.  Placing the hand in one static position does not retrain the brain to produce active range of motion (AROM).  Yet I believe my splint has prevented a painful permanent contracture.

I love my new SaeboStretch resting splint I wear at night.  The new soft straps do not cut into my skin the way the old plastic straps did.  This version also uses a new kind of “Velcro” that does not have spiky hooks that scratch my bare thigh.  Notice that there are now two finger straps and two thumb straps.  The cover zips off so it can be washed.

1.  Lannin N, Cusick A, McCluskey A, Herbert R. Effects of splinting on wrist contracture after stroke. Stroke. 2009;38:111-116.

 

via Home After a Stroke: What I Learned About Splints as a Stroke Survivor

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