Author(s): Apfel E, Sigafoos GT
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Abstract Nocturnal splinting of the elbow is commonly used to treat cubital tunnel syndrome (CBTS). Rationales are based on several studies, which suggest that proper nocturnal positioning of the elbow during sleep contributes to decreased cubital tunnel symptoms. Currently there is limited scientific evidence supporting the rationale for specific splinting protocols. Splints may be custom or prefabricated. The purpose of this article is to assess the range-of-motion constraints of five nighttime elbow orthoses commonly used in the treatment of CBTS. This preliminary study was conducted using a cadaveric model, using three arms to represent three human arm sizes, and compared five different splints, and no splint. Range-of-motion testing was performed using gravity alone and then testing was repeated using gravity plus a 1-pound weight in a standardized fashion. Results showed that all splints restricted elbow flexion significantly more than the unsplinted extremity. Of the five splints, the AliMed splint allowed the most elbow flexion both in the gravity assisted, and gravity plus a 1-pound weight assisted conditions. The only splint that restricted elbow extension was the Hely & Weber splint. The Pil-O-Splint Elbow Support with stay, Hely & Weber and the Folded Towel all restricted elbow flexion to less than 90 degrees under all study conditions. The information provided may be helpful in making clinical decisions regarding splinting for CBTS.
This article was published in J Hand Ther
and referenced in Orthopedic & Muscular System: Current Research