Creating “Exercise Mazes” with Orfit Thermoplastic Materials

To gain motion in stiff joints.

How to create a simple orthosis, geared at movement, using a reshaped and embedded paper clip and a small (thermoplastic) or store bought bead.
The patient moves the desired joint in order to get the bead to move from one side of the paper clip to the other. This way you create a fun way to stimulate movement and help the recovery process.

Here are step-by-step instructions to create your own exercise aid:



  1. Fabricate a circumferential base orthosis over the specific segment distal to the target joint and trim to allow full motion at the joint.
  2. Open a paper clip and reshape (using pliers if necessary). Place a bead over the open end and leave both ends flattened and touching.
  3. Wrap thermoplastic material around the flattened ends of the paper clip.
  4. Using dry heat attach the paperclip to the orthosis. Apply straps as necessary.

It is always possible to modify the shape of the paper clip with pliers to maximize motion as needed and to add thermoplastic material to block the motion of the bead if it gets stuck.

Try this for gaining active motion at different stiff joints.


Here are ideas for PIP motion of the index and wrist:



Written by Debby Schwartz, OTD, OTR/L, CHT

Physical Rehabilitation Product and Educational Specialist at Orfit Industries America.

Debby is a certified hand therapist with over 36 years of clinical experience. She completed her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2010. She has worked at Orfit Industries America as Product and Educational Specialist since 2007.

Debby is also an adjunct professor at the Occupational Therapy Department of Touro College in NYC and has written many book chapters in the field of hand therapy and multiple articles for hand therapy journals, including the ASHT Times and the Journal of Hand Therapy. She has published a new textbook on orthotic fabrication together with Dr. Katherine Schofield, entitled “Orthotic Design and Fabrication for the Upper Extremity: A Practical Guide”.

Debby’s Google Scholar

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