A splint is an assistive device commonly used to brace or support an area of the body. These stabilizers are typically used when a specific body part has sustained some type of injury and needs to be completely immobilized to prevent further damage to the area. A neoprene splint, on the other hand, is a flexible type of splint used to reinforce certain positions of a particular body part and to offer support to weakened or injured areas to reduce the chance of re-injury or an exacerbation of symptoms.
Made from a breathable yet insulated synthetic polymer material, these latex-free bracing systems supply support without limiting all motion. Their ability to be form-fitting provides a snug yet flexible fit. This means that the neoprene splint can be used over bony areas like the hand or foot without causing pressure points that can cause irritation and skin breakdown. The flexible nature also limits the amount of discomfort experienced when using the injured or disabled limb by providing a defense against added strain to the area. Appropriate usage of a neoprene splint may also help combat sensory problems by providing warmth and increasing blood flow.
In addition to providing support, a neoprene splint can be used for compression. Compression decreases the amount of swelling caused by inflammation. Inflammation is a natural process in the body designed to protect the injured area and stimulate the healing process by flooding the area with added blood and fluids. Excessive or chronic swelling, however, can cause further injury and pain symptoms thus limiting the ability of the body to function properly. Controlling the amount of swelling can allow an individual to increase the amount of function or usage and restore normal blood flow.
These splints can be custom-fit due their ability to conform to the area. Pressure areas that may develop can be fixed through loosening the Velcro straps or by inserting small gel inserts over bony parts. Support can be supplemented by the addition of plastic insert that provide a rigid surface to limit or prevent movement.
Added support systems in a neoprene splint may also be inserted to maintain the area in a specific position. For example, with a severe injury or disability to the thumb, a rigid stay can be inserted to keep the thumb in its normal position, away from the palm and fingers. For people suffering from carpal tunnel, a neoprene splint with a rigid insert running from the wrist through the palm offers comfortable yet proper positioning of the hand and wrist to decrease the painful symptoms often associated with this repetitive use problem.