Once you have completed fabrication of any custom- made thermoplastic orthosis, it is very important to explain to your patient the purpose of the orthosis and the expected outcomes from wearing it. Whether the orthosis is designed to protect an injured extremity, alleviate pain, or help support a joint for functional activity, the patient should understand why the orthosis is needed and how it can be beneficial. Otherwise, he or she may not be inclined to wear it!
Many hand therapy and rehabilitation clinics issue a prepared patient hand- out with instructions detailing the orthosis wearing schedule along with precautions and instructions for taking care of the orthosis. Written instructions should include contact information for the clinic just in case the patient needs adjustments on the orthosis or has questions about its use. The instructions should also clearly state when to wear the orthosis, if it is permissible to remove it (for bathing and showers, for example), and the expected duration of wear. The patient might also be asked to sign this document indicating they have received adequate instructions on their new orthosis. A copy of this document can then be placed in the patient’s chart as a record of the intervention.
Orfit Industries has created a document called “Wearing Instructions for Your Orthosis”. Please feel free to use this document for your clinic, or to use it as an example to set up your own document that meets your specific patient’s and/or clinic’s needs.
Suggestions to enhance patient compliance with orthosis wear might include the following ideas:
- The patient has a good understanding of the purpose of the orthosis, the wearing schedule and the expected duration of wear;
- The patient has some choice of the color of the thermoplastic materials or the color of the strapping materials;
- The orthosis fits comfortably and securely on the patient and is easy to take on and off;
- The orthosis has been personalized or decorated with markers, colored tape, colored scraps of material or fake jewels to give it a special and unique touch!