Simple Method For Splinting A Leg
- July 01, 2013
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What materials come to mind when we talk about fractures and splinting a leg?
Mostly it’s sticks or wood. The Boy Scout movement did a great job putting it out there about using sticks for splinting material. Nothing wrong with that but very likely we may be situated where there are no sticks or wood. That means becoming inventive and thinking about what can be used for splinting a leg.
The Purpose Of Splinting A leg
The purpose of splinting is to immobilize a joint or limb or around a fracture to provide support and comfort.
In an office environment for example, we can use books and magazines. In a domestic environment, we can use objects like a towel, cushion or pillow to splint an arm or leg.
Let’s imagine someone fractured the long bone in their upper leg. Their foot would actually lay down against the floor. If we were to prop it back into normal position, what we’re really doing is realigning the bone. Therefore, if his foot is lying down like that and he’s got massive bruising on the leg, we would assume he’s fractured his long bone. We do NOT move it back to the position. It would cause a lot of pain. There is also the possibility of slicing through the femoral artery. So …
Don’t go putting things back in place.
Splinting Without Handy Sticks Or Wood
The correct thing to do is bring the good leg to the bad. Earlier we talked about sticks but all we really need is anything relatively straight and about the right size. I have seen people splinted to brooms which looks a bit weird. It’s easier to bring the good leg to the bad. It’s roughly the same size as the other one. And – it’s relatively straight.
The good thing about splinting legs to legs is that normally they come paired. There’ll usually be another one. But they also have these hollows up under the ankles and up under the knees. So get the gear ready. Triangular bandages are brilliant as they have multiple uses. We’ve used them before for bandages and now they’ll be used as splinting resources as well.
The principle for splinting a leg is that you immobilize the joints directly above and below the fracture first. Open the bandages up and pull them out. Then run them under the ankles and another above the fracture.
However, legs are not perfectly straight due to knees and muscles. We need to provide a bit of padding. Take out an old towel, jumper or something like that and place it in the hollows between the legs.
Then wrap the bandages and do what’s called a figure of eight. A figure of eight crosses them over at the front and brings them around the knee. If we can, bring them back again around to the front/top of the feet and tie them off. I just tie using bows but you can tie them off however you want. Just make sure it won’t slip out. The only reason I use bows when splinting a leg is I can remove them quickly.
So, we’ve immobilized the joints below the fracture, bearing in mind where the fracture is. Now, we immobilize the joint above the fracture which helps to immobilize the fracture itself. Just shimmy the bandages into position and tie them off.
That covers splinting a leg that’s fractured below the knee. If we thought the femur was fractured, i.e. the long bone at the top, we would still do the same again but we’d take the next bandage higher up. Keep in mind that any movement lower down is going to impact higher up too.