A randomized single blind crossover trial comparing leather and commercial wrist splints for treating-chronic wrist pain in adults
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Background To compare the effectiveness of a custom-made leather wrist splint (LS) with a commercially available fabric splint (FS) in adults with chronic wrist pain. Methods Participants (N = 25, mean age = 54) were randomly assigned to treatment order in a 2-phase crossover trial. Splints were worn for 2 weeks, separated by a one-week washout period. Outcomes were assessed at baseline and after each splint phase using the Australian/Canadian Osteoarthritis Hand Index (AUSCAN), the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) and Jamar dynamometer by an observer blinded to treatment allocation. Results Both styles of wrist splint significantly reduced pain (effect size LS 0.79, FS 0.43), improved hand function and increased grip strength compared to baseline (all p < 0.05) with no increase in wrist stiffness. There was a consistent trend for the LS to be superior to the FS but this was statistically significant only for patient perceived occupational performance (p = 0.008) and satisfaction (p = 0.015). Lastly, 72% of patients preferred the custom-made leather splint compared to the commercially available splint. Conclusion Leather wrist splints were superior to a commercially available fabric splint for the short-term relief of pain and dysfunction.