HISTORICAL SPLINT CLASSIFICATIONS
Purpose of Application
Mechanical Characteristics Source of Power Materials Anatomic Part Descriptive Phrase
ASHT SPLINT CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM (SCS)
Purpose: Immobilization/Mobilization/Restriction/Torque Transmission
Total Number of Joints Design Options
SPLINT COMPONENT TERMINOLOGY
Connector Bar Crossbar Cuff or Strap Deviation Bar
Mobilization Assist or Traction Device Finger Cuff
Fingernail Attachment Forearm/Humerus Bar or Trough Hypothenar Bar Joint
Metacarpal Bar Opponens Bar Outrigger
Phalangeal Bar or Finger Pan Prop
Thumb Phalangeal Bar or Post
Good communication, an essential to efficacious patient intervention, is dependent upon a precise and accurate professional vocabulary. A clear and specialized language improves clinical knowledge and understanding. In contrast, poorly defined professional terminology stymies clinical judgment and insight, limiting patient rehabilitative potential. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader with a solid foundation for professional communication in the splinting domain by (1) reviewing seven historical methods for classifying splints, (2) describing and applying the American Society of Hand Therapists' Splint Classification System, as expanded and refined by the authors of this book, and (3) providing a common vocabulary of splint component terminology.
The product of convoluted development over several centuries, previous description and classification of splints were fraught with confusion, redundancy, and omission. By its very nature, the field of upper extremity splinting embraces a profusion of devices and terminology. This, coupled with the fact that similar splints are often used for dissimilar purposes, led to the inevitable evolution of a mismatched and awkward colloquial splinting jargon that was both pervasive and widespread. Demonstrating the profundity of the problem, historically, splints have been categorized via a multitude of differing systems, the most common of which include grouping according to purpose, configuration, mechanical properties, power source, material, anatomic site, and descriptive phrase. Each method possessed distinct advantages and disadvantages. While some classification systems were more precise than others, none effectively provided clear definition and separation of individual splints and splint components. The need for common descriptive splint terminology has been apparent to clinicians, students, and patients for years.
Familiarity with historical splint classifications provides a foundation for understanding the origins of current splinting methods and basic splinting nomenclature. The following is a brief review of seven of the more well-known splint classifications from the past.
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