Publication Details

Lannin, N. A., Cusick, A., McCluskey, A. & Herbert, R. D. 2007, 'Effects of splinting on wrist contracture after stroke: a randomized controlled trial', Stroke, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 111-116.


Background and Purpose—Splints are commonly applied to the wrist and hand to prevent and treat contracture after stroke. However, there have been few randomized trials of this intervention. We sought to determine whether wearing a hand splint, which positions the wrist in either a neutral or an extended position, reduces wrist contracture in adults with hemiplegia after stroke. Methods—Sixty-three adults who had experienced a stroke within the preceding 8 weeks participated. They were randomized to either a control group (routine therapy) or 1 of 2 intervention groups (routine therapy plus splint in either a neutral or an extended wrist position). Splints were worn overnight for, on average, between 9 and 1 hours, for 4 weeks. The primary outcome, measured by a blinded assessor, was extensibility of the wrist and long finger flexor muscles (angle of wrist extension at a standardized torque). Results—Neither splint appreciably increased extensibility of the wrist and long finger flexor muscles. After 4 weeks, the effect of neutral wrist splinting was to increase wrist extensibility by a mean of 1.4° (95% CI, 5.4° to 8.2°), and splinting the wrist in extension reduced wrist extensibility by a mean of 1.3° (95% CI, 4.9° to 2.4°) compared with the control condition. Conclusions—Splinting the wrist in either the neutral or extended wrist position for 4 weeks did not reduce wrist contracture after stroke. These findings suggest that the practice of routine wrist splinting soon after stroke should be discontinued. (Stroke. 2007;38:111-116.) Key Words: function pain occupational therapy upper limb disability spasticity