You might have heard of neoprene splinting before.  Neoprene splinting is an alternative to thermoplastic splinting, and has many benefits. It provides support to joints and structures of the hand. However, it also allows flexibility by giving movement to the area.  Neoprene is made up of an internal rubber layer used to an external nylon layer.  The neoprene used for making finger and hand splints is similar to the wetsuit material you might be familiar with.  So how is it used in hand therapy?

Neoprene has many benefits, such as:

  • Being light weight
  • Cost effective to make
  • Available in a variety of thicknesses
  • Machine washable
  • Edges do not fray
  • Is well tolerated on the skin with little to no rubbing
  • Flexible to fit any hand
  • Can be custom sewn to fit snuggly
  • Provides warmth and gentle support to joints to help relieve pain
  • Gentle force allows improvement in finger extension (straightening)

With any therapy, there can be situations where a neoprene may not be suitable.  These can include:

  • Joints and structures that need to be immobilised and kept still (following some surgeries, or after a fracture)
  • In hot weather if worn continuously as can cause a heat rash

One of the most common neoprene splints we sew in our clinic is a neoprene finger stall.  These are really great for anyone that has a swollen painful proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP joint). 

 PIPjoint

These joints can get sore from osteoarthritis, or from sporting injuries where the finger has been injured by an opponent or a ball.  Neoprene finger stalls are a great way to reduce swelling in the finger as they provide a gentle compressive force.  When worn, they still allow you to bend you finger.  For bent fingers that can’t straighten well, a neoprene finger stall made from thicker neoprene can help gradually straighten the finger over time without restricting use of the hand – pretty clever!  

neoprenesleeve

We can't make you an outfit on the sewing machine, or take up the hem of your pants, but we can sew a mean finger stall that will work!

Written by Amy Geach, Occupational Therapist, Riverina Hand Therapy