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Backpacker Magazine – June 2000

Splints For Broken Bones

Suffer a bone-related injury and one of these high-tech splints will quickly become your best friend.

by: Buck Tilton

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    1.Finger: Curve the splint into a basic lengthwise bend and secure it in place. You can fold the end of the splint back to protect the fingertip.

    2.Thumb: Round the end of the splint to form a protective "cup" for the thumb. Extend the splint up the arm to completely immobilize the hand.

    3.Wrist: Fold the splint in half to increase its overall strength before bending it lengthwise. Round the end at the hand to hold the hand cupped in a natural position, which is more comfortable than forcing it to lie flat. Suspend the arm in a sling held in place with a swathe to keep it out of harm's way.

    4.Lower arm: Apply like a wrist splint.

    5.Elbow: If for some reason, such as a dislocation, you can't flex the elbow into a sling, you can fold SAM lengthwise and secure it in place with the arm extended.

    6.Upper arm: Bend the splint lengthwise, then fold it around the elbow and up over the shoulder before applying a sling and swathe. The broken bone is now comfortably held against the injured person's chest wall and is also protected by SAM.

    7.Ankle: Bend SAM lengthwise, then fold the entire splint into a "U" shape and secure it around the ankle with the foot in the "stirrup." From my experience, you really need more padding around the ankle to fully immobilize it when using SAM this way.

    8.Lower leg: You need two SAMs to splint the lower leg. After making the lengthwise bend, fold both SAMs over at the foot end to form a "cup" to hold the foot in place. Then secure the splints along both sides of the injured leg, one SAM on each side. Here the additional strength of the reverse bend along the outer edge of both splints is very helpful. The SAMs should extend above the knee. You have to immobilize both the ankle and the knee to secure a broken lower leg.

    9.Knee: Two SAMs are needed, one secured to each side of the knee. To maximize the strength of the splints, fold each SAM into the shape of a T.

    10.Neck: Any person with a suspected injury to neck or back needs to be completely immobilized. Additionally, the neck should be secured within a supportive "collar." Fold SAM into a collar by first folding about 8 inches of splint over onto itself, then form a chin cup in the double fold. With the cup held in place manually under the person's chin, gently fold the rest of the SAM completely around the neck and down onto the chest. The excess splint length should then be folded back up to add more support for the neck. Gentle squeezes at the sides of the neck will form "wings" in the splint for more strength. Finally, secure the SAM in place with tape or elastic wrap.

You'll undoubtedly find more uses for your supportive little rescue buddy. Hey, who knows when you might get caught in a surprise snowstorm and need to ski out on a pair of SAMs? Contact: The Seaberg Company, Inc., (800) 818-4726;


36" The most versatile length; the minimum every backpacker should carry; $15

18" SAM Junior; okay for splinting arms of children and small adults; $8

9" Ideal for thumb and wrist injuries, but little else; $4.50

4?" x 2 Useful only for fingers; $1.30

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