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How To Build A Backcountry Knee Splint

Your hiking buddy torqued their knee? This simple splint can prevent further injury and let you both limp home.
Photos by Jennifer Howe / howephoto.us
  • Sit the patient down and support their knee with a stuff bag or clothing. Use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to minimize the swelling that occurs immediately after an injury. Ibuprofen can also help reduce swelling.
  • Wrap the knee with an Ace Bandage or Coban Self-Adhering Wrap to support the injury and compress.
  • Take a foam or self-inflating pad and lay it out as shown, rigging it with tent cord, rope or climbing web.
  • Fold the pad until it's just wide enough to wrap 3/4ths or more around the patient's leg and thigh.
  • Slide the pad underneath the injured leg, positioning it as high against the crotch as comfortable. Maintain a comfortable leg bend by padding behind the knee with spare clothing.
  • Strap the splint around the patient's leg using tent cord, bandages, bandanas or belts. Fill in gaps between leg and splint, and pad all bindings, using spare clothing or with anything that's handy. Compress the leg firmly and immobilize the knee.
  • Tie the splint's cord or webbing over the patient's far shoulder as shown, placing the knot in a comfortable, easy to adjust position. Use this sling to keep the splint from sliding down.
  • Self-evacuate if the patient can bear any weight. You can assist by supporting their injured side, and having them use a stick or trekking pole on the far hand. Reposition and tighten the splint as needed.
Sit the patient down and support their knee with a stuff bag or clothing. Use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to minimize the swelling that occurs immediately after an injury. Ibuprofen can also help reduce swelling.
Image 1 of 8

Sit the patient down and support their knee with a stuff bag or clothing. Use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to minimize the swelling that occurs immediately after an injury. Ibuprofen can also help reduce swelling.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1

You might advise your readers to avoid a tightly rolled packing behind the knee as it could limit circulation of the popliteal artery. Having a sprained knee turn into a necrotic candidate for amputation might not be the best of outcomes. :)

Mason - orthopedic nurse
— MasonMcD

Don't forget to check circulation in the splinted limb and adjust splint to insure proper circulation.
— Tom Hennigan

As a Red Cross instructor, (I teach basic and wilderness First Aid) I'd like to corect a few things (sorry). R.I.C.E. stands for rest, immoblize, cold and elavation. compression is no longer the standerd. I like the sling to help to keep the splint in place. remember we only splint if we HAVE to move the person. If you can get more professional help, do so. I also recomend that everyone take a CPR/ First Aid class. AmericanRed Cross offers class' For all scheduls. Go to www.redcross.org Thanx.
— Chris H.

What should you use if you don't have a sleeping pad?
— Josh

In response to the previous comment about RICE, cold is already included in the mnemonic, but it does not replace compression. Besides, in the backcountry cold is probably going to be pretty difficult to come by. Compression is very effective in helping to reduce swelling that may otherwise be debilitating and prevent someone from being able to assist in their own self rescue. The key is to make sure that you do not wrap anything so tightly around the limb that you impede distal circulation, make sure that the person's leg is still pink and warm to the touch (or that a pulse is present if you know where to look for one) and that they still have good feeling in their extremity.
— Bryon B. NREMT-P, RN


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