Selon moi, there is no worse injury than a burn. It is incredibly painful and in some cases the healing process takes a year of compression therapy and several more of reconstructive surgeries and contracture releases. For those with face and hand burns there are often psychological scars as well, as many struggle with self-image issues and social isolation.
On top of that, when a more severe burn injury crosses a joint, there are often functional deficits as a result. As an Occupational Therapist, it's my job to do whatever I can to limit those deficits. Using special hand splints, for example, is one way to help the thumb, fingers and wrist stay in a 'position of function', providing a continual stretch to certain bits of important anatomy in order to guard against tissue 'shortening'.
But those splints are expense. And they don't exist in Niger. And I've tried multiple different materials that have either been too strong we cannot mold them, too weak they don't hold the proper position, or too water-soluble we can't clean them. But I'm happy to say, Plan D has finally worked!!
I'd wanted to try PVC for some time . . . but just never got around to it.
So when these two cuties came through our doors with their tiny hands in desperate need, I bee-lined to the Shop and found some scraps on the ground (don't worry!!! I had permission to go scavenging!).
It took about an hour a piece for each pair, but in the end a piece of plastic plumbing pipe had been transformed into miniature positioning devices!
Not going to lie . . . I was proud of myself!
And not just because I made clam-digger burn-hand splints from scraps . . . but because I was working with a heat gun at 450°C (that's A LOT of Fahrenheit) and didn't end up a burn patient myself!! Which, considering my fine-motor skills, I'd say I've earned a merit badge!!
I'm sure you're all anxious to run out and find PVC bits in order to make your own burn-hand splints at home . . . so I've provided step-by-step instructions, complete with (very poorly taken) photos (hey!! Don't judge . . . power tools, selfies and my history with fine-motor skills don't exactly go hand-in-hand!!):
|1. Start with round pieces of PVC with a diameter|
wide enough for the thickest part of the patient's
|2. Mark a guide-line with a sharpie and cut your|
PVC with diamond-bitted Dremel (every girl should
have one!) so you have two equal sized troughs.
|3. With the heat dial set to really, REALLY hot, begin to heat up the|
concave side of the PVC. As it begins to widen, flip it over and heat
it some more, belly-side-up until the edges fall flat against the
|Voila!! Nice and flat! It's like magic . . . or more |
like physics . . . neither of which I do on a regular
basis or typically with much success.
|6. If you want to make bilateral splints, and you've gone|
against medical advice and didn't make a pattern, be
sure to trace a second copy while it's flat! Tracing in 3D
can get complicated . . . trust me . . . I speak from experience!
|7. Being sure to wear gloves that will resist 450°C|
for at least a few seconds, start with the thumb flap.
Heat it up where it's still connected to the rest of
the splint, and curl it back against your index finger.
|9. We don't want the splint to fall off, so carefully round the edges by|
heating up one side at a time and using your thumb or hypothenar
eminence (remember, heat resistant glove on), curve the forearm support.
|Aren't they adorable!! Little mini clam-diggers!! I LOVE MY JOB!|