The STAPLES mnemonic is a handy tool used to remember the 7 steps of applying a traction splint.

STAPLES Mnemonic for traction splint

What do the letters of the STAPLES Mnemonic mean?

The STAPLES Mnemonic is used to help remember the steps of applying a traction splint. The STAPLES mnemonic is specifically suited to the Sager traction splint but can be generalized for any brand. Just remember that a traction splint is used for mid third femur fractures that don’t involve a knee or hip and that don’t require rapid transport!

Most well used memory aids exist in more than one version and the STAPLES mnemonic is no exception. 

Size – Thigh strap – Ankle Strap – Padding – Lbs (pounds) – Elevate – Straps

Is a commonly used version of the mnemonic. 

Here is another:

Saddle – Thigh strap – Ankle Strap – Pull traction – Leg straps – Evaluate – Stirrup strap

Saddle –

The “S” of the STAPLES mnemonic helps us to remember to place the saddle first. The saddle is the large padded section at the proximal end of the splint. Normally, a patient places this themselves. It can be helpful to wrap a sling around the shaft of the splint, below the saddle, and then give the other end to the patient to hold onto.

Thigh Strap –

The “T” of the STAPLES mnemonic is for Thigh Strap. Apply the thigh strap (ischial strap)to secure the proximal end of the splint.

Ankle Strap –

Next, apply the ankle strap snugly and above the maleoli.

Pull Traction –

The “P” of the STAPLES mnemonic tells us that it is time to apply traction! Remember to always check local protocols and the manufacturers instructions but usually we apply traction to a maximum of 10% of the patient’s body weight or 15 pounds (whichever is less). For paediatric patients we use a maximum of 5 pounds.

Leg Straps –

The “L”  reminds us to strap the legs. After ensuring adequate padding, we normally use three straps, above and below the injury, to secure the splint.

Evaluate –

The “E”  of the STAPLES mnemonic is for the evaluation phase. It’s time to reassess our intervention. Reassess all of the straps to make sure that they are secure. Reassess the traction gauge to make sure that the tension is appropriate. And remember to reassess the distal pulse!

Stirrup Strap –

This is your chance to use the stirrup strap to make some small adjustments to “fine tune” the traction and comfort. When you’re all done, don’t forget to reassess the limb for distal circulation, motor function and sensation one last time!

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