Benefits of Thermoplastic splints compared to Plaster of Paris

Choosing the right type of material for our orthoses is an important factor in providing the best possible outcome for our patients. You may have noticed that at Hand Works Occupational Therapy our material of choice is low temperature thermoplastic material. This material has the ability to be remoulded, is lightweight, waterproof, removable, comes in a variety of colours, and is strong enough to immobilise any affected area of the upper limb.

Though not commonplace, staff at Hand Works Occupational Therapy are also able to fabricate custom made orthoses using Plaster of Paris and fibreglass material. If you prefer using these materials over thermoplastic, please make note in your referral, or simply contact the therapist directly.

For your convenience we have attached a table that summarises the three main types of materials.

Material Summary
Plaster of Paris
  • Relatively inexpensive – Slower setting time
  • Pressure related complications – Bulky and heavy
  • Not waterproof
Fibreglass
  • Heavier than thermoplastic orthoses, lighter than Plaster of Paris
  • Pressure related complications can occur due to difficulty with contouring
  • Useful for patients with compliance issues eg. elderly, confused
  • Caution needs to be taken with possible tourniquet
  • Not easily removable
  • Only waterproof if gorotex lining is used
Thermoplastic
  • Waterproof, can be worn in the shower and when swimming
  • Light weight
  • Easily removed, allowing regular inspection of injury site
  • Remoldable, allowing adjustments for reduction of oedema
  • Multiple colour options available
  • Cautioned with non-compliant patients