Creating custom-fitted orthosis is a mix of art and science. We must first understand the principles of making orthosis, and then we must understand the problem that our patient’s problem. Only after we have decided what the problem is and how we want to go about treating it can we decide what type of orthosis to make, which is the best material, and which pattern to use.
Then we execute. People jump right into execution because that’s what we learned in Occupational Therapy school. Then because you didn’t become an expert on that one try, you all say how hard it is and how you don’t know how to create them. The expectations we put on ourselves are unjustified and unrealistic.
Creating custom-fitted orthosis is like any other skill and must be honed and practiced. Only then can we truly become an expert. Like any other skill, some have it more naturally than others, but you will not give yourself a chance unless you practice and practice.
Below is part of an interview I did with Debbie Schartz from Orfit. She works for Orfit to showcase their material and is able to teach and showcase to other OTs in hand therapy the important need of this skill.
The Splinting Guru demonstrates some fabrication techniques with Orfit thermoplastic materials. We discuss why splinting is such an integral part of being a hand therapist, and it’s a skill that needs time, practice, and really a desire to advance.
Click to watch the whole conversation here.
Debbie: Well, you don’t necessarily need to make them that fast but you have to feel comfortable with the material. So you know, if you’re a new therapist and you’re in a clinic, I recommend, you know, grabbing the scraps, there’s always gonna be…every therapist in a clinic has a box of a scrap. So just practice working with the different materials so that you get a feel of what has rigidity, what has high resistance to stretch, what is highly conforming, what is sticky. And when I teach, I teach students at Troy University in Manhattan, and when we work with the material, we cut out the pattern but then we heat up what we cut away and we practice manipulating that. We see how much stretch it has, how much play it has.
Before they actually work with the material for the actual orthosis, I make them work with the scraps so they can tell how much they’re gonna have to handle it. And I think that is really important. And I think the more you practice, the more you touch the material and play with it, you get a feel for how much it will stretch.
Hoang: Yeah, one of the things I do is I teach my students to…like when they’re not used to it at all to just hold the material, dip one end of it, and just practice cutting.
Debbie: Oh yeah, definitely cutting out shapes, cutting out circles, we cut out hearts, we cut out diamonds.
A skill often missing for OTs in hand therapy is creating custom-fitted orthosis.
I know it may seem hard, and it is when you don’t know how.
I know you may feel like you will never get there, but you never will if you don’t try.
Let’s face it, your patients WILL come to you with splinting needs. And for you to feel really good and accomplished with being able to get them great results – it’s a non-negotiable that you will need to make custom-fitted splints.
Orthosis 101 allows you to do just that.
Learn the 2 major splints that will then allow you to make just about any other splint you need. That’s the wrist support and the thumb spica.
Get the materials delivered to you and have the step-by-step method handy whenever you need it. Not only does it have videos where I teach and break down the steps and considerations of the two major splints, but there are also other smaller finger ones that I teach in there as well.
You’ll have plenty of materials to play with so why not use those scraps and main materials to mild and create other splints?
The best part about Orthosis 101 is that you have lifetime access to the course which means you get to keep practicing until you get as great as you want to be.
Get more details HERE.