Managing the Patient in Traction
Traction is the application of a pulling force to a part of the body.Traction is used to minimize muscle spasms; to reduce, align, and immobilize fractures; to reduce deformity; and to increase space between opposing surfaces. Traction must be applied in the correct direction and magnitude to obtain its therapeutic effects. As muscle and soft tissues relax, the amount of weight used may be changed to obtain the desired effect.
At times, traction needs to be applied in more than one direc-tion to achieve the desired line of pull. When this is done, one of the lines of pull counteracts the other. These lines of pull are known as the vectors of force. The actual resultant pulling force is somewhere between the two lines of pull (Fig. 67-3). The ef-fects of traction are evaluated with x-ray studies, and adjustments are made if necessary.
Traction is used primarily as a short-term intervention until other modalities, such as external or internal fixation, are possi-ble. This reduces the risk of disuse syndrome and minimizes the length of hospitalization, often allowing the patient to be cared for in the home setting.
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