SPLINTING HANDS WITH INCREASED TONE (NEURO SPLINTING)
Spasticity is caused by an imbalance of signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the muscles. This imbalance is most often found in people with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury.
Arm and hand spasticity refers to involuntary and abrupt movements known as spasms that frequently occur in the arms or hands. The spasms are often accompanied by stiff arm muscles, discomfort, and difficulty with arm coordination and function.
Many people with muscle spasticity have increased muscle tone, meaning that some of their muscles never fully relax. This increased tone, also known as hypertonia, can range from mild and uncomfortable – to severe and debilitating. If left untreated, joint contractures in the fingers and wrist can develop because the joints are no longer moving through their normal range of movement and the soft tissues surrounding the joints become stiff and inflexible.
Hand therapists can help prevent joint contractures by providing ‘resting’ splints, which place the hand in a normal, functional position. This places the affected hand out of the position of deformity. Splinting, in conjunction with passive joint movements can keep the fingers, hand, and wrist flexible and can help combat increased muscle tone.
Below are images of a patient who attended the Merivale Hand Clinic for splinting. This patient had increased muscle tone in his wrist, thumb and fingers but a hand-based splint was chosen to help manage the deformity. This was mainly personal preference, as the patient had not tolerated a hand and wrist-based splint that had been made for him in the past. Our therapists carefully ensure they balance ‘best practice’ with patient tolerance as this will greatly increase compliance with splinting.
If you would like to discuss splinting options for any neurological condition, please phone 355-9775 for an appointment. You do not need a doctor’s referral to see one of our therapists.