Background The purpose of this paper is to retrospectively evaluate the results of the treatment of elbow stiffness with the use of dynamic splints.
Methods We included 17 patients with stable and congruent joints, with a range of motion of 100 degrees or less who had not responded to the rehabilitation program. Average previous mobility was 108–42 degrees, with a total arc of 66 degrees. The splints consist of an articulated brace with springs. On average their use began 94 days after surgery or trauma and continued for 86 days. Statistical analysis was performed. Average follow-up was 18 months.
Results Postoperative mobility was 126–19 degrees, with a total arc of 107 degrees. Motion increased an average of 41 degrees. Six patients failed to recover a functional arc of motion.
Conclusion Our results suggest that dynamic splints are useful in the treatment of elbow stiffness. We achieved an average improvement of 41° in the arc of motion, which in many cases has rendered arthrolysis unnecessary. Tailoring the splint to the individual patient is very important since its usage must be prolonged in order to achieve plastic deformity through the principle of progressive stretching.