I have a group of therapists that are required to cut thermoplastic materials and are experiencing hand pain and MCP problems. We are in the process of purchasing new tools and ensuring the tools are kept sharp. I have looked at worksurface height etc. My question is: Is anybody aware of a device that could be used as a “warming plate” so that the thermoplastic material would be warmer while they are cutting it and thereby reduce the amount of force required? The typical method of warming the material is to place it in hot water. We have tried warming it in water first but it changed the consistency of the materials too much and rendered the material unworkable.
I have not found anything in the ‘splinting world’ and wonder if other industries have anything that might be useful.
Our therapists have used a large electric teflon frying pan with temperature control to keep the water bath at a constand temperature that is suitable for cutting the materials…check K-mart, Target or Walmart etc…
A firm by the name of Indus Tools makes the Cozy brand of heated mats (Cozy Toes) that might work for this application. http://www.indus-tool.com/
The Mary Pack Arthritis Center occupational therapy department (Vancouver BC) uses a cutting device made by Bostitch. It’s a table top cutting tool with a handle which turns a small sharp cutting wheel. I have not seen it but I understand it works well. The telephone number of the center is is (604) 875-4041.
There are heating trays designed to warm PVC electrical conduit for bending. Some are designed only for pipe or conduit: some are ‘blanket-stye’ which could be used with a number of shapes. Check out a local, commercial plumbing supply house. One vendor is Greenlee (select product, bending, PVC).
There are probably many more of these available by contacting several commercial plastics suppliers in your local yellow pages.
I have previously worked as a hand therapist for six years before going into ergonomics and industrial rehabilitation. When I used to make splints with thermoplastics, I was aware of the force “normal” scissors place on the 1st MCP joint and 1st pahlanx, so I immediately began to look for an alternative. I found that, in addition to softening the splinting material before cuttting, the Fiskars brand scissors with a long handle was very helpful. The longer handle, not a loop for the thumb, is designed so that you use the scissors with pressure from the thenar area(1st metacarpal), and phalanges 2-5, not the 1st phalanx, thereby diminishing the lever arm and strain to the 1st CMC joint, but not diminishing needed force. With this type of scissors, you’re just reducing force on the CMC joint. They’re easy to use and keep handy in the clinic.
Hope this helps.
I ran a hand therapy clinic for 12 years and this was a re-occurring problem. We made sure we had heavy-duty, high quality scissors and regularly sharpened them. However, the best solution we found over time was to eliminate much of the problem of cutting by purchasing pre-cut splints of the most commonly used splints. Although more expensive to buy, the savings in scrap and time made them cost effective.
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