Bracing, Casting and Splinting
Sports activities play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body structure of an individual. However, sports activities can result in various injuries that require adequate care. If neglected, sports injuries may induce serious complications and may even require surgery of the affected area. Braces are widely recommended for the management of such sports injuries. Bracing plays an important role, both in prevention and therapeutic management of the sports injuries.
Braces or splints are specifically designed devices that safely support the injured area in correct position to induce the healing process. Braces are comprised of specific material that provides warmth and compression to the affected joint and soft tissues. Bracing involves wrapping the specific brace or splint around the injured area as recommended by your physician. Bracing helps to prevent further damage of the injured area, without affecting the daily activity of the person. Braces also are effective in healing muscular injuries, including damage to soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments.
The type of bracing depends upon the affected area (knee, wrist, and elbow etc.) and severity of the sports injury. Usually bracing will be more effective in treating mild to moderate injuries, rather than abrupt severe injuries.
For better recovery of the sports injury, bracing should be used along with physiotherapy and strengthening exercises.
Casting and Splinting
Casting and splinting are the commonly rendered non-surgical treatment options for injuries related to the bones and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments). Casting and splinting help stabilize fractures and reduce pain, swelling, and muscle spasm.
The word “fracture” implies a broken bone. When you break a bone, your doctor first aligns the fractured pieces together in the appropriate position, and then your therapist applies a cast or a splint in order to hold the bones in place while your fracture heals.
Casting is the most effective way to immobilize skeletal fractures. Skeletal fractures normally require around 6 weeks of immobilization. Casts are made of hard setting materials such as plaster or fiberglass (a material made of glass fibres in resins) to provide the best clinical outcome. Fiberglass is more expensive but is lighter in weight, lasts longer, and breathes better than plaster. In addition to these, X-rays can pass through fiberglass better and may help your doctor investigate your fracture better during the healing phase.
Splinting is a highly effective way of immobilizing tissues or joints (hand, wrist, foot or ankle) when some movement or flexibility is required for optimum healing. Splints can be made of plaster or fiberglass. Splints, also known as half-casts, can be adjusted to accommodate swelling associated with various soft tissue and joint injuries. Splints can also be ready-made or custom-made. Depending on the extent and severity of your fracture/injury, your therapist will fabricate your splint to provide you with the best fit and comfort. Splinting combined with gentle physiotherapy exercises is very important in the treatment of most fractures and many soft tissue and joint injuries.
Post Casting/Splinting Care
Your injured area may show swelling in the first 48-72 hours after casting/splinting and may induce some pressure on the injured area. The swelling can be reduced by elevating the injured extremity above the heart level and by applying ice packs.
It is quite normal to feel some pressure under your splint or cast. If you experience increased pain, tightness, numbness, tingling, burning, or swelling you should contact your therapist immediately.