What is a Hand Splint?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2018
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Hand splints are metal or plastic devices that are designed to securely hold the hand, wrist, or fingers in a position that will help facilitate the healing process. A hand splint may be utilized in the event of an injury or when some type of medical condition threatens to impair the function of the hand. Different types of hand splints are used, depending on the kind of health issue the patient is currently experiencing.

Sometimes referred to as a hand brace or wrist brace, a hand splint is often employed as a means of preventing further damage to the hand while healing is taking place. At the same time, the particular design of the splint may also help keep the fingers straight or provide support to the thumb so that the patient can still make use of the hand during the healing process. The particular type of splint employed will depend on a number of factors, particularly severity of the health problem or injury.


One of the more common examples of the splint is known as the resting hand splint. Essentially, this device helps to keep the hand in an open position. Hand braces of this type help to keep the palm flat and the fingers extended and open. The splint also prevents the thumb form curling into the palm. This can be especially important if the presence of a debilitating disease causes the fingers and thumb to pull into a closed fist. By wearing the brace device, the muscles of the hand are stretched and it is harder for the fingers and thumb to be become stiff or cramped.

Weight-bearing splints are also helpful when there is stiffness in the muscles of the hand. This type of hand splint can be helpful when the hand is somewhat weak and not capable of supporting much weight. Like the resting hand splint, this device helps to keep the hand in an open position, avoiding cramps and similar discomfort. Some designs make it possible to add support up to the elbow of the arm, which may be helpful if the intent is to develop the shoulder and elbow muscles to help compensate for the weakened hand.

A thumb spica splint is another example of an effective hand and wrist brace. With wrist braces of this type, the object is to keep the thumb from curling into the palm but also allow enough mobility for the fingers and thumb to pick up object and perform a limited range of tasks.

Depending on the type of splint, the device may be constructed with different materials. A metal hand splint is often a good option when total immobility is desired. A plastic hand splint may allow slightly more range of motion. Some splints, such as the thumb spica splint, may be created using durable neoprene material that keeps the hand flat but does allow some movement of the fingers and thumb.


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