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Upper limb orthotics and splints

Neuro Café13th April 2022

A woman has her hands raised above her head
What are upper limb orthotics and splints?

What are splints and orthotics?

  • Splinting is defined as the ‘application of external devices designed to apply, distribute or remove forces to or from the body in a controlled manner, to perform one or both functions of control of body motion and alteration or prevention in the shape of the body tissue. Simply = things that help us move better.

  • They provide a prolonged stretch to maintain or help change the body

Shoulder subluxation

An image of a shoulder orthotic to assist with shoulder stability
Ottobok shoulder orthotic

  • Shoulder sublaxation is a weakness around shoulder blade muscles. When the rotator cuff cannot hold the shoulder joint up, the humerus drops/or "subluxes".

  • There is little evidence for shoulder supports but for some patients they can make a big difference in terms of reducing pain, improving alignment and helping when other people touch you.

Types of upper limb splints and orthotics

Two hands holding onto each other
There are many different types of upper limb splint and orthotic

Types of elbow splints

  • Inflatable

  • bean bag

  • T range

  • Gator splint (keeps elbow locked in extension).

Resting splints for wrist & hand​

- Improve alignment of wrist ​

- Aim not to allow muscles to shorten if wrist always dropped​

- Supports finger joints​

- Can be customised / made individually from thermoplastic material and straps added

- Simple fuetura splints can aid wrist alignment and aid stability ​

Thumb spica

- When thumbs are weak or tight they can get stuck into palm ​

- Thumb spica splints can help with positioning of thumb​

- Can reduce pain ​

- Can help with function ​

- Can aid stretching​

Other aids

  • Oval-8 splints finger splints. To stabilise and protect.

  • Saebo glove Elastic bands that stretch the hand out. You do need some active grasp strength in the hand to use.

  • Active hands - for more information visit

  • Readi streadi - an anti - tremor device.

  • Gyroglove - to help increased hand tremors. It is a gyroscope in a glove

  • Lycra - Helps with swelling/oedema, high/low muscle tone, hand tremors, hypermobility, altered sensory feedback

A crowd of people with their hands raised in the air together
When to not use splints?

When not to use splints?

Do not use if:

- you are in pain

- there is no identified benefit

- there is no clear plan

- other strategies are working

- there is poor compliance

- there is poor follow-up

- there is an established contracture resulting in fixed joint deformity

Follow the advice given by your therapist regarding your splint.

Ask your LEGS therapist if you are unsure or contact your team who prescribed your splint/orthotic.

Please see the LEGS Members' area for more information.

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