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Updated guidance aims to spread best practice on splinting for contractures

27 January 2015 - 9:33am

Physios and occupational therapists have collaborated on guidelines about working with patients who have, or are at risk of having, contractures.

Dr Cherry Kilbride

Dr Cherry Kilbride worked with Stephen Ashford, Jo Tuckey, Lorraine De Souza and Fabienne Malaprade to develop the guidance

The document is titled Splinting for the prevention and correction of contractures in adults with neurological dysfunction. It was published by the College of Occupational Therapists and the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology (ACPIN) today.

As well as the full 132-page document, the project team has produced a quick reference guide to help clinicians and managers interpret the guidelines.

The guidelines are intended for therapists to use, alongside their clinical expertise, in assessing a patient’s needs and carrying out interventions.

Splinting is largely a postgraduate skill, the document says. So all therapists must ensure they work within their scope of practice and, where appropriate, seek supervision. It advises therapists to take practical training in splinting as necessary.

Physiotherapists Cherry Kilbride, Stephen Ashford, Jo Tuckey, Lorraine De Souza and Fabienne Malaprade were members of the group that developed the document.

Dr Kilbride is a senior lecturer at Brunel University London. She said the guidelines are the first of their kind to be jointly developed by occupational therapists and physios.

‘Ultimately the use and application of these guidelines has challenges, not least ensuring the engagement of the clinical community,’ she told Frontline.

‘But we hope that, as the ownership of the development processes have been so strongly shaped by therapists and service users, this will go some way to ensuring they are relevant for clinical practice and research.’

Ms Tuckey, a private practitioner and ACPIN member, said: ‘The last guidelines were published in 1998, so these are long awaited and are aimed at helping clinicians with decision making.

‘This is not a “how to” document, but an aid to clinical reasoning about when it’s appropriate to splint and how to fit this in to the management of contractures.’

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