Evaluation of Commercially Available Traction Splints for Battlefield Use

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Studer NM, Grubb SM, Horn GT, Danielson PD 14(2). 46 - 55 (Journal Article)

Background: Femoral fracture is a common battlefield injury with grave complications if not properly treated. Traction splinting has been proved to decrease morbidity and mortality in battlefield femur fractures. However, little standardization of equipment and training exists within the United States Armed Forces. Currently, four traction splints that have been awarded NATO Stock Numbers are in use: the CT-6 Leg Splint, the Kendrick Traction Device (KTD), the REEL Splint (RS), and the Slishman Traction Splint (STS). Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the differences between the four commercially available traction devices sold to the U.S. Government. Methods: After standardized instruction, subjects were timed and evaluated in the application of each of the four listed splints. Participant confidence and preferences were assessed by using Likert-scaled surveys. Free response remarks were collected before and after timed application. Results: Subjects had significantly different application times on the four devices tested (analysis of variance [ANOVA], ρ < .01). Application time for the STS was faster than that for both the CT-6 (t-test, ρ < .0028) and the RS (ρ < .0001). Subjects also rated the STS highest in all post-testing subjective survey categories and reported significantly higher confidence that the STS would best treat a femoral fracture (ρ < .00229). Conclusions: The STS had the best objective performance during testing and the highest subjective evaluation by participants. Along with its ability to be used in the setting of associated lower extremity amputation or trauma, this splint is the most suitable for battlefield use of the three devices tested.

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