What Is a Rigid Splint?

J. Beam
J. Beam
A finger in a rigid splint.
A finger in a rigid splint.

A rigid splint is any object that immobilizes a part of the body by providing adequate support without permitting movement. This type of splint is used in emergency first-aid care to prevent further injury to a broken or possibly broken bone and may also be used as a form of medical treatment for certain orthopedic injuries. When an emergency situation arises and a manufactured splint is not available, a rigid splint can be made from a number of everyday objects.

A rigid splint may be used in cases where an x-ray has confirmed a broken bone.
A rigid splint may be used in cases where an x-ray has confirmed a broken bone.

Most manufactured splints that prohibit mobility are made of plastic or metal braces that strap onto or conform to a specific body part. Doctors may prescribe a rigid splint or soft splint depending on the injury and desired mobility limitations. Manufactured splints are available for every extremity of the body including fingers, wrists, elbows, arms, knees, legs, feet and the head and neck. A prescription is not necessary to purchase a splint, but one should only be applied and worn with a doctor’s advice or in emergency situations until medical advice can be obtained.

A rigid splint should only be worn based on a doctor's advice or in emergency situations.
A rigid splint should only be worn based on a doctor's advice or in emergency situations.

In emergency situations, such as accidents at home or work, a rigid splint can be applied to any injured extremity that appears broken or cannot be moved. By properly applying a splint to an injured victim, further injury of the extremity is prevented. A rigid splint can be made from anything rigid and inflexible that will provide support. A board, sticks, pencils or even rolled-up magazines can suffice.

Ice packs may help reduce swelling of an injury before application of a splint.
Ice packs may help reduce swelling of an injury before application of a splint.

Apply the rigid support material under or around the injured extremity, use towels or clothing to provide padding and secure with an elastic bandage, rope, belt, necktie or any other object that can be tied. Avoid moving the injury as much as possible while applying the splint. If swelling is obvious, apply cold or ice to the area while waiting for medical attention. An emergency splint isn’t permanent and is only intended for use until medical help is received, but when used can prevent or reduce further injury.

A rigid splint can be used to immobilize the leg.
A rigid splint can be used to immobilize the leg.

A rigid splint is designed to immobilize a limb, appendage or joint, but still provide support and allow for adequate circulation. If a splint is recommended as treatment or therapy for an injury, be sure to have a doctor or physical therapist demonstrate the proper way to apply the splint. If other extremities such as fingers or toes become numb, adjust the splint to allow for better circulation or have the fit checked by a medical professional.

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    • A finger in a rigid splint.
      By: Rob Byron
      A finger in a rigid splint.
    • A rigid splint may be used in cases where an x-ray has confirmed a broken bone.
      By: Giuseppe Porzani
      A rigid splint may be used in cases where an x-ray has confirmed a broken bone.
    • A rigid splint should only be worn based on a doctor's advice or in emergency situations.
      By: michaeljung
      A rigid splint should only be worn based on a doctor's advice or in emergency situations.
    • Ice packs may help reduce swelling of an injury before application of a splint.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Ice packs may help reduce swelling of an injury before application of a splint.
    • A rigid splint can be used to immobilize the leg.
      By: amawasri
      A rigid splint can be used to immobilize the leg.
    • A rigid splint may be required if a person experiences a bad fall.
      By: Rob Byron
      A rigid splint may be required if a person experiences a bad fall.
    • A splint and physical therapy may be helpful in relieving pain associated with a fracture or sprain.
      By: lightwavemedia
      A splint and physical therapy may be helpful in relieving pain associated with a fracture or sprain.
    • Failing to immobilize a broken finger may cause improper healing of the bones.
      By: stokkete
      Failing to immobilize a broken finger may cause improper healing of the bones.