Splinting: Back to the Basics $0.00

Splinting: Back to the Basics

By: By: Emily Nichols |
Splinting: Back to the Basics

“Orthotic fabrication is as much an art as it is a science” -Dr. Jim Wagner, OTD, OTR/L, CHT

In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, we want to highlight a skill that is extremely relevant throughout the career and day-to-day responsibilities of our OTs. We don’t want you to find yourself going through the motions with tasks as important as splinting. Let us help to refresh your mind on the art of splinting, the proper set up, and the necessary tools!

The Art of Orthotics

By definition, a splint is “a thin piece of wood or other rigid material used to immobilize a fractured or dislocated bone, or to maintain any part of the body in a fixed position.” [1] Splints, however, have come a long way since consisting of two small wooden boards and being tied with rope or cloth.

In recent years, the term more commonly used and the term that allows for reimbursement is the word orthosis. Orthosis is “used to describe a single device. A rigid or semi-rigid decide that supports a weak or deformed body member, or restricts or eliminates motion in a diseased or injured part of the body.” [2] Although the term splint is still commonly used and is often used interchangeably, it should not be used by therapists fabricating or issuing an orthosis.

Advances in surgery, more efficient splinting materials, and increased knowledge has changed that way that splints are made both by beginners and veterans over the years. No matter the purpose of the splint, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the most current processes of creating orthotics.

How to Properly Set Up Your Area

“Having your materials set up in just the right order will help you to be more effective in everything that you do.” -Dr. Jim Wagner, OTD, OTR/L, CHT

We’re providing you with a list of the splinting tools Dr. Wagner believes is necessary to have ready to go before beginning to create your orthotics. In case you’re missing any of these tools or are looking to upgrade your current tools, take a look at our recommendations to see if they can aid in making your splinting process more efficient!

  1. Splint plan
    • The Rolyan Splint Pan is ideal for serial and experienced splinters by helping to achieve proper heating temperature to help form and bold different types of medical splints.
    • Be sure to have your splinting pan three-fourths of the way full with water.
    • It is also important to check that the temperature of the water reaches 160 degrees. Having the water too warm or too cool is one of the most common mistakes in orthotic fabrication.
  2. Turner
    • The Sammons Preston Turner is a nylon turner that is ideal for retrieving splinting material from the heat pan. It will help to minimize scratches and save your scissors from corrosion!
  3. Trim scissors
    • Fiskars Scissors are ultra-light stainless-steel scissors ideal for cutting heated, low-temperature thermoplastic material that leaves a smooth edge after cutting!
  4. Material scissors
    • Always have an extra pair of scissors on hand specifically for cutting your materials. A pair of Fiskars Non-Stick Scissors are ideal for cutting through hook and loop, glue, tape and other adhesives without damaging the blades. With the choice between a large pair or small pair, you’re sure to have just what you need. Now you can be at ease knowing the sticky material will wipe off easily with a damp cloth!
  5. Utility Knives
    • Designed for professional or personal use, the Rolyan Retractable Utility Knife is super easy to store and transport. Don’t fear those hard-to-cut materials when you have this knife mixed in with your splinting tools. The sharp blade is able to cut plastic, strapping, and more!
  6. Adhesive Remover
    • For those whose scissors may not be non-stick (or to have just in case), stock your splinting kit with a bottle of Goo Gone. As an all-natural cleaner, this adhesive remover will give your tools a clean and refreshing citrus smell!
  7. Grease Markers & Pen
    • Whether you’re making marks on paper or you’re tracing on your splinting material, drawing utensils are must have splinting supplies!
  8. Hook & Loop Material
    • The Rolyan Extra-Strong Hook & Loop has adhesive specifically selected to adhere well to Rolyan splinting materials. The multi-use hook and loop are designed to be pushed together to provide you with a strong fastener that is easily adjustable. And to make this product even more desirable, it comes in a variety of colors!
  9. Splinting Materials
    • Rolyan Splinting provides a comprehensive range of sheet materials and pre-cuts. For many years, Rolyan has been leading the way in thermoplastics and aims to meet your ever changing needs! With the broadest range of high-quality splinting materials, you should have an easy time finding a product for every splint you need.
  10. Paper
    • When creating a custom orthosis, it may be necessary to have extra paper laying around to create your pattern.

    Watch how Dr. Wagner sets up his area before splinting & see if you can take away any useful tips!

Organizational Tools Available to You

Once you have all of the splinting necessities, proper storage and organization will be an added benefit and will help to make your next time creating an orthosis a breeze! In addition to the above tools, we’ve picked out our top three “must-have” splinting organizational tools available to you.

  1. Rolyan Splint Center
    • This spacious splinting center is designed to store all splinting materials, including tools, accessories, splint pants, sheets, and strapping materials. It can be rolled bedside or stored to conserve clinic space. With the flexibility of moving shelves, you will be sure to create the perfect storage option for your needs.
  2. Rolyan Tool Pouch
    • Now that you have all of these tools, where you should store them? This tool organizer has 11 pockets designed to hold tools of all sizes. It includes an acrylic measuring board to measure splint patterns and score splinting materials safely.
  3. Rolyan Hook & Loop Organizer
    • Keep your strapping organized and all together whether it’s kept in your splint center, on the counter, or in the cupboard.

If You Want Even More Splinting Tips & Tricks…

If you’re feeling extra passionate about orthotics and want to hear more from Dr. Jim Wagner, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, click here to view our full splinting playlist. He demonstrates a series of splinting videos as well as shows some kinesiology taping techniques that can be used in combination with the splints!

You’re also welcome to join Bruce Curtis, OT, and learn how to become a more successful and confident splinter by joining in for one (or both!) of our free splinting webinars available to you at any time.

Click here to watch: "Six Steps to Splint Fabrication"

Click here to watch: "Splinting Tips and Tricks"


  1. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/splint
  2. https://www.asht.org/practice/durable-medical-equipment-dme/orthotics/coding