University of Limerick
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Evaluating the clinical benefit and acceptance of a bespoke 3D-printed splint for the treatment of mallet finger injury: A pilot study in a cohort of patients

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Mallet finger injuries due to forced flexion of the distal interphalangeal joint represent a common reason for hospitalization. These injuries are primarily managed using generic Stack splints. The gold standard of care is custom splinting by a specialized hand therapist. However, this is not widely available due to staffing constraints. The aims of this study are to: (i) evaluate whether treating mallet finger injuries with a custom three-dimensional (3D)-printed splint is clinically beneficial, and (ii) assess patient and healthcare professional (HCP) acceptance and experience of bespoke 3D-printed mallet splints over generic splints. Ten adult patients with closed mallet finger injury were recruited in this study, which was conducted across three Injury Units in the University of Limerick Hospital Group (ULHG). Each patient’s injured finger was measured using calipers and subsequently fitted with a bespoke 3D-printed splint. Clinical benefit and acceptance of bespoke 3D-printed splints for the treatment of mallet finger injury was assessed. The results indicate that it is clinically advantageous to use a custom 3D-printed splint over a premolded generic splint. Out of the ten patients recruited, eight had successful outcomes based on the occupational therapist (OT) measurements using the Crawford classification scale. The results showed that 40% of patients scored excellent, 30% good, 30% fair, and 0% poor. In addition, in terms of patient and HCP acceptance of the splint, nine of the ten patients stated that they would use the 3D-printed custom splint again, if needed, in the future. In conclusion, a high level of patient and HCP acceptance signifies the clinical advantage of using 3D-printed splints. This pilot study shows that advances in 3D printing could make custom splinting a viable option for use in personalized healthcare.


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International Journal of Bioprinting


ACCScience Publishing

Other Funding information

European Regional Development Fund

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  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

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  • (3) Good Health and Well-being

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  • School of Medicine
  • School of Design

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