A custom orthosis is a device that is custom-made to fit a person’s specific body part and provide support, immobilization, protection, or correction of a limb or joint. It is fabricated from a 3-dimensional model or cast unique to the individual’s anatomy, rather than mass-produced in standard sizes and shapes. The exact specifications of the materials, dimensions, placements of joints/straps/pads, and biomechanical features are tailored to the individual and their particular needs.
Custom orthoses are often prescribed to improve function, provide stability, reduce pain, correct deformity, or assist healing after injury or surgery. Because they are specially molded to match an individual’s body contours precisely, custom orthoses can offer advantages in comfort, function, and rehabilitation that off-the-shelf options may not. They are an important tool that occupational therapists utilize to help patients perform activities of daily living and regain independence.
One of our occupational therapists will evaluate the patient’s condition, functional goals, and needs when determining if a custom device is required versus an off-the-shelf option. A custom orthosis or splint may be recommended for an occupational therapy patient in the following situations:
Custom orthoses can potentially be made for the hand, wrist, and upper extremities to stabilize the area and support a quick recovery.
Custom hand/wrist orthoses like splits and braces can support conditions like arthritis, strokes, injuries, neurological conditions, or burns. They allow function while providing joint stabilization or stretching tight muscles.
Elbow orthotics can be custom-made after trauma or surgery to protect the joint while still permitting mobility. They reduce strain on healing tissues.
Custom shoulder orthoses improve function and decrease pain from instability, repetitive strain, arthritis, and post-op rehabilitation. They enhance joint alignment and take pressure off damaged structures.
The occupational therapist conducts a thorough evaluation of the patient’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.
Customizing a splint for the individual greatly optimizes rehabilitative outcomes in many situations. Some of the main benefits of using a custom-made orthosis include:
The experienced occupational therapists at Synergy Health Partners take great pride in our ability to fabricate custom orthoses tailored to each patient’s unique needs. We thoroughly evaluate the affected upper extremity to determine the optimal design, materials, and specifications to provide immobilization, support healing, restore function, and improve quality of life during recovery from traumatic injuries or disabling conditions. Our onsite workshop allows us to create these durable devices with state-of-the-art equipment right from our facility.