by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

If you injure your neck or an extremity and can’t get to medical help, you may need to stabilize it with a splint.

Materials Needed to Make a Splint
  • SAM Splint or other firm material
  • Elastic bandages
  • Duct tape

You can make a splint out of virtually any firm material that fits the area of the body, but there’s a fairly inexpensive tool you can buy and have on hand. It conforms to the injured area, and you can cut it to size.

It’s called a SAM Splint. It comes in many lengths and widths to fit fingers, forearms, ankles, knees, etc. If you’re on a budget, buy a few of the longer ones. (If you cut it, curl up the sharp edge so it won’t cut you back.)

The thing about SAM Splints is they’re light, and they take up little space if you fold or roll them. Unlike braces, they can fit all sizes. Unlike cast material, they don’t have to harden. You can wrap them around the neck or ankle, or use them on finger, wrist, arm, elbow, foot, leg, or knee injuries.

Someone told me the idea came from playing with a gum wrapper. If you crimp the foil wrapper down the middle, it becomes rigid. So does the SAM splint.

Any time you make a splint, there are a few things you should remember, which you’ll learn about in the video:

  • If you’re splinting a joint, include the bones on each side of the injury.
  • If you’re splinting a broken bone, include the joints on each side of the injury.
  • If the splint’s going to be on for more than a few hours before you can get medical help, apply cloth between the skin and splint to absorb moisture.
  • Pad any rough areas or bony prominences, or the splint might rub or damage the skin with too much pressure at one point.
  • Make sure the splint is snug enough that the injured area can’t move much.
  • Make sure the wrap around the splint is not cutting off circulation. Do this by:
    1. Readjusting the wrap if it feels too tight.
    2. Periodically checking to make sure the hands and toes are not getting cold, losing feeling, changing colors.
  • Limit swelling by elevating the injury to heart level or above.

Note: I’m not getting compensated to mention the SAM Splint, and I have no relationship with the company. I just like the product.