Simple Sling and Sling With Abductor Pillow: What's Wrong With These Pictures?

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Orthopaedic care requires proper use of Durable Medical Equipment (DME). Understanding the basic principles of proper application is necessary to promote healing of the initial injury and to prevent the development complications. Orthopaedic nurses may encounter patients in the hospital, office, or community using DME incorrectly. Manufacturer's guidelines for placement and provider orders should be confirmed for proper equipment use. The purpose of this short brief is to demonstrate basic principles of using DME in the orthopaedic patient.
Slings may be used for shoulder, arm, or hand injuries to prevent edema, to support fracture alignment, or to promote comfort (Cooper, Ford, & Sammut, 2012; Fagan, Evans, Ghandour, Prabhkaran, & Clay, 2004; Kunkler, 2013; Pullen, 2007; Wise, 2015). Slings with abductor pillows may also be used to help immobilize the shoulder after rotator cuff surgery (Conti, Garofalo, & Castagna, 2015). Figures 1 and 2 illustrate common issues using a simple sling. First, the hand is positioned lower than the forearm and the elbow. Also, the presence of jewelry could cause complications if edema develops. Figure 3 demonstrates poor hand position with a sling and abductor pillow.
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