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What Is a Robert Jones Bandage?

By Christian Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A Robert Jones bandage is a type of soft splint bandage consisting of many layers of soft material wrapped around a joint or extremity. Its purpose is to compress and to limit mobility in order to provide support, reduce bleeding, and limit swelling following surgery or trauma. It is named for a surgeon who developed it in response to injuries sustained by soldiers on the battlefields of World War I, in an effort to temporarily stabilize traumatic injuries to upper and lower extremities until more thorough medical attention was possible. In addition to its original purpose, the Robert Jones bandage is used to protect areas such as the elbows and knees after surgery. It is also used in veterinary medicine to treat severe injuries to the extremities of pets and livestock.

As it is commonly used for a variety of injuries to the limbs of both humans and animals, a Robert Jones bandage may vary from one use to another. It is more of a general technique for immobilization of a wounded limb than a specific type of bandage. Joint injuries, broken bones, severe lacerations, and other structural injuries can all be treated this way in order to stabilize a person or animal until more complete medical attention can offered.

A typical Robert Jones bandage, whether applied before treatment, after surgery, or following other treatment, is generally constructed in the same way. Strips of tape are applied along the length of the limb being bandaged, extending in either direction from the site of the injury. In the case of a knee joint, the tape would be placed on the outside and inside of the leg, on the sides of the knee joint and passing from the upper thigh to the lower calf, along the lines followed by the seams of a typical pair of pants. In some cases, such as a lower leg injury, the tape may pass under the foot, stirrup-style, and only extend upward as far as the lower leg just below the knee. Splints made of wood, plastic, or improvised field material, such as sheets of rolled up newspaper, may also be used in place of tape for more support.

The next step is to wrap several layers of soft, thick bandaging, such as cotton or gauze, around the affected area, along the entire length of the tape or splints, in such a way as to compress the wounded region. Care must be taken not to compress the wounded area so much that blood flow is completely restricted. Moderate compression, however, helps to reduce swelling and slow bleeding and immobilizes the wounded area, which is essential in the case of severe joint damage or broken bones.

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Discussion Comments
By Axeleye — On Jan 28, 2014

Although probably not a possibly when used during battle, it's a good idea to sterilize the wound as much as possible before administering the split. If camping or otherwise out in the wilderness, it's a necessary to know how to make this or other DIY splints, and to keep antiseptics on your person in case of emergency.

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