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Benefits of a thermoplastic splint

With another month to go of summer, our activity levels are still high. We need to ensure that following an upper limb injury we are able to safely recover without giving up our favourite beach activities. Thermoplastic splints enable you to continue all our favourite summer activities such as swimming, kayaking and playing beach cricket following a fracture or a soft tissue injury.

Normally following a fracture you would be fitted with a plaster cast or backslab at the hospital which are bulky, hot and uncomfortable during the summer months. Follow a review of your injury with a Hand therapist. You can be fitted with a custom thermoplastic splint to protect your recent upper limb injury.

Thermoplastic splints differ from traditional plaster casts as they are lighter, 100% custom made, waterproof and provide more protection to your injury. Some thermoplastic splints can be removed for hygiene purposes to wash your arm or clean your splint. Any time your splint gets wet it must be removed and dried to avoid your skin becoming soft, soggy and damaged It is important that you discuss this with your Hand therapist to ensure the correct use and treatment.

Thermoplastic splints are the perfect option over summer as they will allow you to continue to participate in water activities such as swimming and kayaking. Although it is important that you keep your splint away from hot cars and water as it will melt or change shape in temperatures above 60 degrees.

Thermoplastic Splint Care Guide:

  • Do not leave it in the car on a sunny day
  • Do not dry with a hair-dryer
  • Do not wash in the dishwasher or washing machine
  • Ask your hand therapist for spare velcro straps which can be swapped over if you are swimming

Common upper limb injuries during summer

Distal radius fracture

Distal radius fractures are a common injury that is seen in all age groups and most frequently occur following a fall onto an outstretched hand. During the summer months Distal radius fractures are common injuries that occur around pools as a result of slipping or running on wet areas and, whilst falling over whilst walking along the pier or on the rocks at the beach.

Distal radius fractures are treated by the hospital/ emergency room through a plaster cast or a backslap. Don’t put an end to your summer holiday by the beach due to your non waterproof cast have a review with a Hand therapist to discuss a thermoplastic splint option

Tennis elbow
If you are an avid paddle boarder or kayaker you may experience pain on the outside of your elbow. This is an indication that you may have developed Tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is typically an overuse injury caused by repetitive activities that include prolonged gripping with frequent elbow flexion and extension.

Finger Fractures (Volar plate / mallet avulsion)
Over the summer months we love to practice or footy and cricket skills down at the beach with our family and friends. Some of the most common injuries when playing these sports affect our fingers for example

Mallet Avulsion Fracture
A Mallet Finger avulsion fracture is frequently encountered in sport and is the result of forceful bending of the tip of your finger forward. This results in the inability to straighten the end of your finger without passively extending it.

Volar Plate Avulsion Fracture
Volar Plate avulsion fracture occurs after hyperextension injury to your second knuckle joint and is often associated with a jarred or strain finger. When the volar plate is hyperextended, it may also pull off a small piece of bone which can be treated with a thermoplastic splint.

The above finger injuries can be treated with a thermoplastic splint which will allow you to quickly get back to summer sports and swimming.


  • Ben cunningham

    Ben Cunningham is the Hand Therapist at the Melbourne Football Club and has over 20 years’ experience providing hand and upper limb therapy, including working in the United Kingdom at the Queen Victoria Hospital and as the senior clinician at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.