Leg splints immobilise an injured leg, so it can heal or to prevent further damage during a patient's transportation from an emergency situation. Because most leg fractures lead to swelling, a splint may be applied until swelling subsides, at which point a full cast may be applied. A form of leg splint is also used in the treatment of club foot.
Thomas Leg Splint
The Thomas-type splint, invented by British orthopaedic surgeon, Hugh Owen Thomas, was widely used during WWI. It consisted of a canvas-covered iron frame that immobilised the entire leg. The splint extended from below the foot to a ring at the hip and could be used for legs with single or multiple fractures. In modern medicine, they are known as traction splints and are constructed from plastic.
Denis Browne Splint
The Denis Browne splint is used for the correction of club foot and was invented by Denis J.W. Browne, a twentieth-century Australian surgeon. The splint is composed of a curved bar attached to the bottom of a pair of specially made shoes. The wing nuts on either end of the splint allow it to be tightened or loosened according to requirements. The splint is most effective when applied at an early age following a reduction in the deformity by casting and manipulation.
In cases where an exact fit is necessary, a hospital's orthopaedic department may create a custom-made leg splint. However, in a majority of cases a ready-made splint will be used. These come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and are most commonly attached with Velcro to simplify taking them on and off. The Velcro attachment also makes it easier to accommodate any swelling during healing.
Dynamic splints help a patient with a leg injury to initiate and perform movements that may have been restricted due to the contraction of ligaments and tendons during healing. Dynamic splints help improve flexibility and rehabilitation of ankle and knee joints through a system of springs or elastic bands that provide a form of prolonged stretching.