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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Musculoskeletal Care Modalities

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Principles of Effective Traction

Principles of Effective Traction
Whenever traction is applied, countertraction must be used to achieve effective traction.

PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE TRACTION

Whenever traction is applied, countertraction must be used to achieve effective traction. Countertraction is the force acting in the opposite direction. Usually, the patient’s body weight and bed position adjustments supply the needed countertraction.

The following are additional principles to follow when caring for the patient in traction:

 

·      Traction must be continuous to be effective in reducing and immobilizing fractures.

 

·      Skeletal traction is never interrupted.

 

·      Weights are not removed unless intermittent traction is pre-scribed.

 

·      Any factor that might reduce the effective pull or alter its resultant line of pull must be eliminated:

 

The patient must be in good body alignment in the cen-ter of the bed when traction is applied.

Ropes must be unobstructed.

Weights must hang free and not rest on the bed or floor.

Knots in the rope or the footplate must not touch thepulley or the foot of the bed.

 

There are several types of traction. Straight or running traction applies the pulling force in a straight line with the body part rest-ing on the bed. Buck’s extension traction (Fig. 67-4) is an exam-ple of straight traction. Balanced suspension traction (Fig. 67-5) supports the affected extremity off the bed and allows for some patient movement without disruption of the line of pull.


Traction may be applied to the skin (skin traction) or directly to the bony skeleton (skeletal traction). The mode of application is determined by the purpose of the traction. Traction can be applied with the hands (manual traction). This is temporary traction that may be used when applying a cast, giving skin care under a Buck’s extension foam boot, or adjusting the traction apparatus.

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