Support of painful joints (eg arm slings, arm troughs, playboards) such as a painful shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand
Immobilization for healing or protection of tissues
Provide stability or restrict unwanted movement/motion
Prevention of contractures or normalising tone
Restore mobility to joints
Upper extremity orthotics has been defined by Desharies (in Trombly & Radomski 2002, p313) as any medical device added to a person's body to support, align, position, immobilize, prevent or correct deformities, assist weak muscles, or improve function; also known as a splint, brace, or support.
The main purpose for prescription of orthotics under this approach is to compensate for reduced muscular strengh by substituting for weak or absent muscles (eg wrist splints, mobile arm supports etc). Orthotics have the same advantages and disadvantages as adaptive devices (Dutton, 1995), but in addition, they can tend also to be bulky and uncosmetic.
As well as bing useful within the compensatory approach, upper extremity orthotics can have a role to play in the areas of prevention and maintenance. Can you think what that might be? Click below for some ideas.