If an ambulance is unavailable, it may be necessary to splint the broken wrist. Before splinting, check the following three things:
- Check circulation by comparing the color and temperature of the injured wrist against the uninjured wrist.
- Check sensation by asking the patient which finger you are touching.
- Check motion by having the patient wiggle his or her fingers.
In an emergency situation, you can make a splint with a heavy stick, folded cardboard, or a rolled-up newspaper along with some one-inch strips of cloth. Avoid using duct tape or other adhesive tapes that may be difficult to remove later.
To make a homemade splint:
- Gently wrap the wrist in some cloth or padding to help cushion the break. Do not attempt to realign the bones; leave that task to the professionals
- Place the splint so that it rests on the joint above and the joint below the injury.
- Using strips of cloth, fasten the splint tightly enough to keep the joint steady and secure but not enough to cut off circulation. Try not to place ties directly over the wound.
- Be sure to immobilize the hand. Any movement of the hand will result in pressure on the wrist.
- Recheck circulation, sensation, and motion.
Once the splint is secure, you can ice the wrist to reduce swelling. Start by placing a cloth barrier on the skin to prevent frostbite. Ice the skin for 15 minutes, moving it constantly, then remove for 15 minutes. Repeat until help arrives.