Meet OT Nanette Davis: Building Custom Splints

Nanette Davis is an Occupational and Certified Hand Therapist in our Overland Park clinic. She has been an OT for 20 years, and a CHT for 15 years.

Meet OT Nanette Davis

Meet OT/CHT Nanette Davis in our Overland Park clinic who shows off different kinds of splints and demonstrates how she builds custom splints. #ARCPTplus #OTMonth

Posted by ARC Physical Therapy+ on Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nanette went to school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. While there, she had two very small children and her husband helped her get through school by watching them so she could study. After graduating in 1998, she was offered a position at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in their Hand Department, where Mary Ann McDowell and a group of CHTs mentored her. After that, Nanette worked for 18 years in another hand clinic, working directly with doctors.

Nanette uses a variety of prefabricated splints to restrict movement or provide support for an injury, such as for carpal tunnel, arthritis or tendonitis. Softer splints are used for injuries such as early onset arthritis or tendonitis. Semi-rigid splints may have a small metal bar for increased rigidity. Harder splints are used for injuries such as a distal radius fracture. They protect a tendon by keeping the hand in a flexed position and restricting active motion.

The type and function of each splint is unique to the patient and their injury. Nanette and her team collaborate with the doctor to determine the best protocol for each patient.

Sometimes, they create a custom splint for the patient. For example, if somebody had an MP joint replacement, PIP joint pain, or a radial nerve injury, a doctor might want to create a splint with a pulley system that gives them a limited range of motion to start to work on exercises. For broken arms, such as a distal radius fracture, a doctor will request a splint which allows the patient to use their fingers, but restricts the rotation of the arm.

Another type of splint is a dynamic splint, which is used for bent fingers due to a fracture or even a tendon laceration. They are worn to help the finger stay in a straight position, and the patient is able to take the splint off and bend the finger. Other splints are designed to help a hand or fingers stay in a proper position while helping a damaged nerve, due to carpal tunnel or a laceration, heal.

Each splint is tailored towards the patient and what they need to get back to full function. Sometimes only a custom splint will do. The custom-made splints start out with an Occupational Therapist like Nanette drawing a pattern on a flat piece of thermoplastic that matches the shape of the wrist, hand, or the part of the upper extremity needing the splint. The pattern is then cut out with scissors and heated in a skillet or warm water. The OT molds the plastic onto the patient’s hand to create a custom fit. They use velcro to secure it and make it easy for the patient to take the splint on and off. These custom, thermoplastic splints are easy for the patients to clean, and easily tweaked for weekly adjustments as needed.

If you are in need of occupational therapy or interested in learning more about custom-made splints, contact Nanette Davis in our Overland Park clinic at (913) 754-0888.

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