Wrist Splint Does Not Prevent Contracture After Stroke

Study shows no benefit to wrist splinting after stroke

THURSDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Wrist splinting to prevent and treat muscle contracture following stroke is ineffective and should be discontinued as a routine practice, according to the results of a randomized, controlled trial published in the January issue of Stroke.

Natasha A. Lannin, Ph.D., of Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues randomized 63 adults who had experienced a stroke in the preceding eight weeks to either routine therapy (controls) or routine therapy plus splint in either a neutral or an extended wrist position. Patients wore the wrist splints for about nine to 12 hours a day for four weeks.

The investigators found that splinting the wrist in either neutral or extended wrist position did not reduce the risk of contracture. Neutral wrist splinting increased extensibility by a mean of 1.4 degrees, and splinting the wrist in an extended position reduced extensibility by a mean of 1.3 degrees, compared with controls. Overall, participants lost an average of 17 degrees of wrist range of motion by the end of the six-week study period.

"These findings suggest that the routine practice of hand splinting to prevent muscle contracture during acute rehabilitation after stroke should be discontinued," the study authors conclude.

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