Occupational therapy plays a critical role in the assessment, design, and fabrication of custom orthoses or splints to support and improve hand function, protect surgical procedures, and promote healing in individuals with various hand and upper extremity conditions.
The occupational therapist conducts a thorough evaluation of the client’s hand or upper extremity condition. This assessment includes identifying the underlying diagnosis, understanding the client’s specific functional limitations and goals, and assessing the range of motion, strength, and sensation in the affected hand or limb.
If necessary, the occupational therapist collaborates with the client’s physician or referring healthcare provider to obtain a prescription for the custom orthosis or splint. This prescription includes specific details about the type of orthosis required and the intended treatment goals.
The therapist takes precise measurements of the client’s hand or limb to ensure a proper fit. In some cases, the therapist may use molding techniques to create a cast or mold of the affected area, which serves as a blueprint for custom orthosis/splint fabrication.
Using the assessment findings and measurements, the occupational therapist designs the custom orthosis or splint tailored to the client’s needs. The orthosis is often made from various materials, such as thermoplastic or neoprene, which can be molded to fit the client’s hand comfortably and provide the necessary support.
Once the orthosis/splint is fabricated, the therapist fits it to the client’s hand or limb, ensuring proper alignment and comfort. The therapist may make adjustments as needed to optimize the fit and function of the orthosis.
The therapist educates the client on how to use and care for the custom orthosis/splint properly. This includes information on wearing schedules, hygiene, and any exercises or activities to perform while wearing the orthosis.
The therapist provides functional training to the client to ensure proper use of the orthosis during daily activities. This training helps the client integrate the orthosis into their routines and promotes optimal function.
The therapist regularly monitors the client’s progress, reassesses the orthosis’s fit and function, and makes any necessary adjustments or modifications to meet the client’s changing needs.
As the client’s condition improves, the therapist may gradually reduce the use of the orthosis, ensuring that the client’s hand or limb can safely support itself without reliance on the orthosis.
The occupational therapist provides ongoing support and guidance to the client throughout the entire orthotic treatment process, addressing any concerns or issues that may arise.