Approach to Splinting

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Course Credit: 2 hours

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the types of splint applications.
  2. Understand when not to apply a splint.
  3. List the materials that are required to place a splint.
  4. Discuss basic principles about splint application.
  5. List some of the potential complications of splinting.
  6. Review key points to include in patient discharge instructions.
  7. Name some of the pharmacological adjuncts to aid in recovery.
  8. Review splint techniques associated with injuries commonly managed in the ED.
  9. Learn tips to help with successful splint placement.

The purpose of this SplintER series on orthopedic splinting is to teach the key principles, pearls, and pitfalls in splinting to the Emergency Medicine (EM) professional. Humans have been splinting their injuries since 1300 B.C.[1] and although the fundamentals have not changed, splint selection and application require some thoughtful consideration. A 2017 prospective, observational study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics demonstrated that more than 90% of splints applied in the Emergency Department were inappropriate (30% applied by EM attendings), as evaluated by orthopaedic surgeon [2]. While that number may not be representative in your institution, it certainly highlights the inadequacies that many of us feel when applying and adjusting a splint. We can all do better.

All information has been expert peer-reviewed by an EM/Sports Medicine specialist.

Author(s)Expert CommentaryArticle
William Denq, MD CAQ-SMElizabeth Delasobera, MDSplintER 101: Splint Principles 
Max Hockstein, MDElizabeth Delasobera, MDSplintER 102: Splint Application Principles 
Austin Smith, MD; William Denq, MD CAQ-SMAnna Waterbrook, MDSplintER 103: Complications & Discharge Care Plans with Splints
William Denq, MD CAQ-SM; Max Hockstein, MDKori Hudson, MDSplintER 104: Common ED Splint Techniques


  1. Browner B D. Skeletal Trauma. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2009.
  2. Abzug J, Schwartz B, Johnson A. Assessment of Splints Applied for Pediatric Fractures in an Emergency Department/Urgent Care Environment. J Pediatr Orthop. January 2017. [PubMed]

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