Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether an injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain, or strain.

Splinting Since you cannot be sure which of these a victim might have, always care for it as a fracture. If ambulance car is on the way, do not move the victim. Control any bleeding first. Care for shock, and monitor Airway Breathing Circulation (ABCs). If you are going to transport the victim to a medical facility, follow this general rule: "When in doubt, splint." Splinting is a process of immobilizing a suspected fracture. Materials that can immobilize a fractured bone and the joints above and below it can be used to splint. (Examples are rolled-up newspapers, magazines, and pieces of wood.) Commercial splints are also available. The purposes of splinting are – • To immobilize a possibly fractured part of the body. • To lessen pain. • To prevent further damage to soft tissues. • To reduce the risk of serious bleeding. • To reduce the possibility of loss of circulation in the injured part. • To prevent closed fractures from becoming open fractures. The basic principles of splinting are –

• Splint only if you can do it without causing more pain and discomfort to the victim.

• Splint an injury in the position you find it.

• Apply the splint so that it immobilizes the fractured bone and the joints above and below the fracture.

• Check circulation before and after splinting.

If there are no splinting supplies available, splint the broken part of the body to another part. For example, a broken arm can be splinted to the chest. A fractured leg can be splinted to the other, uninjured leg.

If the injury is a closed fracture, dislocation, sprain, or strain, apply a cold pack. Do not apply a cold pack to an open fracture. This would require you to put pressure on the wound and may cause discomfort to the victim.

Next, elevate the injured area. Do not attempt to elevate a part you suspect is fractured until it has been splinted.

For any of these injuries, care for shock and monitor ABCs.

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