How to Apply a Finger Splint

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Finger splints are medical devices used to immobilize injuries to the finger. Read this lesson to learn the process of selecting an appropriate splint, applying the device, and securing it to promote healing and prevent further injury.

Scouts on a Mission

Josh is scout leader planning this annual camping trip for his pack of teenage boys. He prepares a long list of essential items for the outing, including food, bug spray, mess kits, and other items. Before the group heads out for the woods, he grabs his first-aid kit on the way out the door.

A day into the camping trip, Josh leads his pack on a long and strenuous hike. Excited to get back to the camp for some food, one of the boys trips over some equipment and falls to the ground. Afterward, he stands back up, but realizes his finger is very red and painful. Josh inspects the boy's finger, and determines to apply a splint to the injury.

What is a Finger Splint?

A finger splint is a medical device that can be applied to a finger while it heals from an injury. It may be used in some of the following finger injuries:

  • Broken finger bones
  • Finger jamming
  • Stiff finger joints

The primary purpose of the splint is to decrease some of the strain on the finger during normal activities through immobilization. This means that the finger is given some time to rest by preventing movement to protect it from further damage.

Applying the Finger Splint

These splints do not require individuals to have training in the application and use of the splint, making them a powerful tool in providing first-aid and avoiding high costs associated with medical care. Many splints are consist of a combination of foam on the inside and metal on the outside. The foam molds to the individual's finger, while the external metal provides stabilization and immobilizes the area of injury. As Josh prepares to splint his scout's finger, he uses the following process:

Choose a Splint

Splints can vary in terms of size, shape, degree of immobility, and curvature. Rounded or curved splints are best for bone fractures, while straight splints may work better for fingertip injuries. Josh does not suspect a broken finger, therefore, he chooses a straight splint.

Placement

Placement and application of the splint to the finger is an important part of the process. Special attention should be made not to extend or flex the finger more than it is naturally willing to move at that time. Josh fixes the splint on the finger in a way that it is not too tight causing forced straightening of the finger because he knows that this could create further injury. To avoid hurting the finger more, the finger is pulled slightly out of the splint and bent to fit the boy more appropriately.

Secure the Splint

To secure the splint, medical tape is wrapped around the top of the splint in between the first and second knuckles. In doing so, the splint is secured or fastened into place, allowing it to effectively immobilize the injured area. The tape should be changed daily or as often as needed to stay clean and function properly.

In an additional attempt to immobilize the injury, the splinted finger is taped to the finger just next to it. To do this, Josh takes the boy's index finger (finger closest to the thumb), and attaches it to the middle finger with the use of tape. Again, the tape is applied at the top and close to the base of the pair.

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