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Occupational therapy students compete in the first "Cross Town Splint-Off" with the College of Mount St. Joseph

Students must create an architectural structure from splint material and show school spirit as well

02/09/12

Occupational therapy students from Xavier and physical therapy students from the College of Mount St. Joseph are competing to see who can make the best splints—and show the most school spirit in the process.

The first “Cross Town Splint-Off” takes place on Monday, Feb. 13, at St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Hand Therapy Center in Edgewood, Ky. The event is sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Patterson Medical.

The three to four-member teams that vie in the Splint-Off will build an architectural structure from splint material—with a school-spirit twist. Each project must include three different splint materials—Polyform™, Ezeform™ and Aquaplast™—and no more than four non-splint components. Projects must demonstrate the draping, molding and bonding ability of the materials, include a cylinder or curved structure, contain some square edges and also represent the school.

“Many of these students have no idea how to use splinting materials when they start helping patients,” said Meg Robinson, St. Elizabeth occupational therapist and certified hand therapist. “This contest will give them a chance to feel comfortable with the material before having to put it on a person.”

Occupational therapists use activity to help patients regain motor skills after injury or illness, such as helping them to dress, eat or cook. Recovery often includes splinting.

“It’s tricky to use thermoplastic because it hardens quickly. You have to form shapes during the three to five minutes that the material is flexible. You wait too long and you have to reheat or the splint might not fit,” said Robinson, who noticed students struggling to shape splints during her lecture classes at Xavier. “We want therapy students to feel more comfortable with splinting, learn the basic qualities of various splint materials and most of all not be so nervous.”

The structures will be judged on uniqueness and originality, aesthetic and professional quality smoothness, neatness, craftsmanship, materials selection, complexity and intricacy.

The teams will present their creations to eight judges from noon to 1:00 p.m. Judges will include two from each school, two from St. Elizabeth Hand Therapy and two guest judges. Students will present and explain their creations to the judges. Sponsors expect up to 13 teams to take part in the contest, and they hope this year’s champion will return to defend the title in 2013.

Xavier’s graduate program in occupational therapy includes classroom and fieldwork experience, as does Mount St. Joseph’s physical therapy program. Most graduates are likely to land a job after graduation. Xavier’s employment rate for its occupational therapy graduates is 100 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for both occupational and physical therapists could grow by as much as 26-30 percent from 2008 to 2018.