How to Make Slings for Arm Injuries
Slings can be used to immobilize a variety of upper limb and arm injuries. Generally, the most effective sling is made with a triangular bandage. Most first aid kits will contain triangular bandages.
Although triangular bandages are preferable, any material, e.g. tie, belt or piece of thick twine or rope, can be used in an emergency. If no suitable material is at hand, an injured arm can be adequately supported by inserting it inside the patient’s clothing.
There are two main types of sling. The arm sling and the elevation sling. The arm sling is used for the majority of arm and upper limb injuries. The elevation sling can be used to elevate fingers, for example after a crush injury.
All slings must be in a position that is comfortable for the patient. Never force an arm into the textbook ‘right position’.
How to make an arm sling
- Support the injured arm approximately parallel to the ground with the wrist slightly higher than the elbow
- Place a triangular bandage between the body and the arm, with its apex towards the elbow – think “point towards the joint”
- Extend the upper point of the bandage over the shoulder on the uninjured side
- Bring the lower point up over the arm, across the shoulder on the injured side to join the upper point and tie firmly with a knot (ideally a reef knot)
- Ensure the elbow is secured by folding the excess bandage over the elbow and securing with a safety pin or tape
How to make an elevation sling
- Support the patient’s arm with the elbow beside the body and the hand extended towards the uninjured shoulder
- Place an opened triangular bandage over the forearm and hand, with the apex towards the elbow – think “point towards the joint”
- Extend the upper point of the bandage over the uninjured shoulder
- Tuck the lower part of the bandage under the injured arm, bring it under the elbow and around the back and extend the lower point up to meet the upper point at the shoulder
- Tie firmly with a knot (ideally reef knot)
- Secure the elbow by folding the excess material and applying a safety pin or tape. Ensure that the sling is tucked under the arm giving firm support