When a casualty suffers a complete fracture of the femur, the strong thigh
muscles can contract and pull the ends of the fractured bone out of alignment. Once
the two fractured ends of the femur are out of alignment, muscle contractions can then
cause the fractured bone segments to slip and be side by side. This causes the thigh to
"shorten." These fractured ends can damage major blood vessels, nerves, and muscle
tissues of the thigh.
PURPOSE OF A TRACTION SPLINT
The purpose of a traction splint is to immobilize and provide constant traction to
the injured limb. The traction pulls the muscles of the thigh back to their normal length
and allows the fractured femur to slip back into alignment.
a. The traction splint was developed by Sir Hugh Thomas, an orthopedic
surgeon, who lived in Liverpool, England, during the 19th century. Traction splints used
in the field include the Hare traction splint.
b. Traction splints are used only on the lower extremity, usually for a fracture of
the femur. The traction places counter traction on the body. When traction is applied to
the leg, the counter traction is applied against the bones of the pelvis. If the splint were
to be applied to an arm, the splint would press against the axilla (armpit) region.
Pressure in the axilla could damage blood vessels and nerves located in the region and
seriously impair blood circulation.
APPLY THE HARE TRACTION SPLINT
a. Locate Fracture Site. As you perform your survey of the casualty, cut or tear
the pants leg to expose the injury and locate the site of the fracture. Dress any open
wounds on the leg before applying the traction splint. Check the casualty's distal pulse.
b. Obtain Splint. Obtain the Hare traction splint set. The set contains the metal
Hare splint with straps and ratchet, an ankle hitch, padding materials, and a litter bar.
The Velcro straps provide support for the leg and secure the leg to the splint. The metal
splint has a stirrup that lifts the splint off the ground.
c. Obtain Assistant. The Hare traction splint can be applied by two people. In
the following instructions, the person helping you will be identified as the assistant.
Instruct the assistant in his functions and provide help as needed.