, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 10-17
Date: 16 Dec 2011

Static progressive orthoses for the upper extremity: a comprehensive literature review

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Static progressive orthoses are commonly used in the treatment of stiff joints or joint contractures of the upper extremity, but there are few high-quality studies to support this intervention. In addition, there has not been a recently published review of the current literature describing this treatment technique and the outcomes achieved. The specific purpose of this comprehensive literature review is to investigate the current levels of evidence supporting the use of static progressive orthoses in the treatment of joint stiffness or contracture in clients with orthopedic conditions of the upper extremity. This review will also discuss common diagnoses of patients and outcomes achieved, as well as provide recommendations for future hand therapy practice.


A computerized database search of publications incorporating the use of static progressive orthoses for the upper extremity was conducted, dating from January 1979 through January of 2011. The search was limited to studies in English of adults with orthopedic conditions.


A total of 65 publications were located. However, only 16 of these studies met this review’s inclusion criteria of level 4 evidence or above. Each of the articles was critically appraised using the Structured Effectiveness for Quality Evaluation of Study (SEQES) and the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine 2011 Level of Evidence. Total SEQES scores ranged from 17 to 39. The majority of the studies are level 4 evidence.


Although the overall level of evidence is low, the inclusion of static progressive orthoses as an intervention appears to result in positive outcomes, including increased active range of motion, increased grip strength, improved DASH scores, and improved patient satisfaction as well as reduced pain medications during orthotic intervention. The current evidence supports static progressive orthoses as an intervention for patients with upper extremity joint stiffness or contractures due to orthopedic conditions.