Objectives. This study compared soft versus hard resting hand splints on pain and hand function in 39 persons with rheumatoid arthritis. Splint preference was also evaluated to determine its effects on splint wear compliance.
Method. A repeated measures research design was used to compare the two experimental conditions, wearing a soft splint versus a hard splint on the dominant hand for 28 days at night only, and an unsplinted control period of 28 days.
Results. Arthritis pain was considerably less during both splinted periods when compared with the pretest. Subjects identified fewer joints as being painful during the soft splint condition than during the unsplinted condition. There were no significant differences among conditions on hand function measures. Splint preference was 57% for the soft splint, 33% for the hard splint, and 10% for no splint. Splint wear compliance was significantly better with the soft splint (82%) than with the hard splint (67%).
Conclusion. The findings indicate that resting hand splints are effective for pain relief and that persons with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to prefer and comply with soft splint use for this purpose. Individualized splint prescription that focuses on client comfort and preference may enhance splint wear compliance.