How to Apply Splints

A splint provides temporary immobilization to help reduce blood loss, pain or discomfort in tendon or joint lacerations, sprains and fractures. Before putting on a splint, layers of stockinette and cast padding should be applied to the injured area. Material for a splint uses plaster that will harden after being wet. Follow these steps to apply splints.


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    Measure the amount of splint material needed. Lay dry plaster splint material next to the injured body part to judge the length. The width should be a little wider than the diameter of the body part being splinted.
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    Cut or tear the length of dry splint material you need.
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    Decide on the splint's thickness. This generally ranges from 8 to 15 layers. The necessary thickness depends on which body part needs splinting, the patient's size, and how strong the splint needs to be.
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    Soak your dry splint material in a deep bucket of cool water. Wait for the splint material to stop bubbling.
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    Take out the wet splint material and squeeze it gently. Excess water should be squeezed out but the plaster should still be wet and messy.
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    Smooth wrinkles out of the splint's layers. Make sure all the layers are flat.
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    Put the wet splint material over the cast padding. Smooth it over the area being splinted.
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    Fold the edges of stockinette and cast padding so they go over the ends of the splint.
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    Use 1 or more elastic bandages to secure the splint.
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    Move the splinted part of the body into the desired position. Use the palms of your hands to mold the splint to the contours of the body part.
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    Let the splint harden while holding it in the desired position.
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    Finish the splint by applying tape along its sides. The tape will keep elastic bandages in their place.
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    Add a sling or provide crutches as necessary.


  • When measuring the splint's length, it is fine to extend the plaster splint material past the length of the injured body part. The excess plaster can be folded or trimmed down.
  • Check for any discomfort, pressure points or vascular problems before finishing the splint.
  • Have someone else hold the splint in place while you adjust it, if necessary.
  • 8 to 10 layers of splint can be used for upper parts of the body. 12 to 15 layers can be used for lower parts.
  • Using cool water to soak the splint material will decrease the risk of thermal burns. It does take longer for the splint to dry, though.


  • Do not get the splint wet after it has hardened. Remove the splint if possible or cover it with plastic bags before bathing.
  • Do not use your fingers to mold the splint around the injured body part. Your fingers can cause more indentations in the splint that can increase the chance of pressure sores developing.
  • Do not tape around the splint in a circle when finishing it. Taping along the sides of the splint will allow room for swelling in the injured body part.

Things You'll Need

  • Deep bucket
  • Cool water
  • Plaster splint material
  • Scissors
  • Elastic bandages
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sling or crutches

Article Info

Categories: First Aid and Emergencies