Category : Hand Therapy

Hand Hand Surgery Hand Therapy

What is a Hand Therapist?

I have been told to see a hand therapist, but am unsure what that means. Who provides “hand therapy”?

A hand therapist is an occupational therapist (OT) or physical therapist (PT) who has specific training and expertise in treating hand and arm conditions. Typically, this person has spent many additional years gaining expertise with hand and arm injuries and treatment. When an OT or PT has reached this higher level of experience, they often become a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).

So I can see anyone that is a PT, OT or CHT to take care of my problem?

You will want to ensure that the therapist you see, whether it is an OT or a PT, is qualified to treat your condition. If they are a CHT, it means they have had extra training and passed a rigorous exam to demonstrate their skill. If they are an OT or a PT, they may still treat hand and arm conditions, but you should ask questions to ensure they have spent extra time after their formal education learning about the hand and arm. To find a hand therapist near you, click here.

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Hand Hand Therapy Mirror Therapy Pain

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Mirror Therapy for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain that does not respond to conventional treatment can be frustrating for both the person with the pain and the team of people trying to help alleviate the pain. You may have heard of mirror therapy, but are unsure of what it is or who can benefit. To answer these questions, I consulted Susan Stralka, PT, DPT, MS. Susan has many years of experience treating patients with chronic pain and has lectured around the world on this topic.

What is mirror therapy?

Mirror therapy is a rehabilitation technique that uses the mirror image of a non-painful limb to retrain the brain about its perception of a painful limb. The non-painful limb (such as a hand or foot) is placed in front of a mirror and the painful limb is placed behind the mirror out of sight.

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Hand Therapy Joint Pain Joints

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Techniques to Reduce Joint Pain

For this post, we are sharing a video that demonstrates many techniques you can use on a daily basis to protect your joints. In past posts, we’ve discussed joint protection and gave some examples and illustrations of this. (See Protecting Your Joints and Living With(out) Thumb Pain.)

The video below shows some of those examples in action. The video has no sound, so don’t worry about turning up the volume. As you watch, you will be given some practical pointers. There are some questions in the video, so put on your thinking cap and see what ideas you come up with to take care of your joints.

After watching the video, you may have questions about specific activities and how to make changes to decrease your joint pain. Talking to a certified hand therapist can help you apply these principles to your specific activities, which can help you to keep doing what you want in life.

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Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Safety Tips to Avoid Common Holiday Injuries

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Many of us start our holiday preparations by “making a list and checking it twice!” Suddenly, we are overwhelmed by its length. The fact that baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping and travel all come before December 25 can be dismaying. If this describes your current quandary, please continue to read about how you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

The most commonly reported decorating injuries are lacerations, back strains and falls. Luggage-related injuries increased to approximately 75,500 annually, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) reports that holiday hand injuries are caused by carving a turkey, ham or roast and that tendon and nerve injuries are caused during meal cleanup (contact with a sharp knife or a broken glass).

Here are simple holiday tips for ladder safety, luggage transport and meat carving:

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Hand Hand Therapy Posture Stretching

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist – Desk Posture Part II

Rear view of young businesswoman sitting at desk stretching. Copy space

Spending extended periods of time at a workstation places high levels of stress on our body, especially our arms and hands. The more time we spend at our work station, the more our muscles fatigue and gravity pulls our body forward. The result is rounded shoulders and a forward head position. Standing or sitting in a static desk posture throughout the day places a lot of stress on our tendons, nerves and muscles. The nerves in our shoulders and arms can become compressed and irritable, which can result in numbness and tingling in our hands. The muscles at the front of our chest (our pectoralis muscles) become tight and the muscles between our shoulder blades become overstretched. As a result, we can develop painful trigger points in these muscles. Over, time these issues become more difficult to correct.

Here are some simple exercises to help prevent these issues:

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Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy Pumpkin Carving

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Pumpkin fun without knives!

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My children love carving pumpkins at Halloween. I worry about them cutting their fingers. How can we keep everyone’s hands safe?

Take a look at the safety tips published last year by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). The pumpkin carving tools in the kits at your grocery or pharmacy are safer to use than knives. There is a blog article from last year on just this topic!

There are tons of fun decorating ideas that don’t involve young folks using knives. Here are just a few:

  • Use push pins or adhesive jewels to script a word such as “EEK!” or “BOO!” or to draw the outline of a ghost or bat.
  • Push small picture-hanging nails into the pumpkin and use brightly colored yarn wound around the nails for an abstract pattern.
  • After an adult scoops out the pulp and seeds, use a hand drill or spin a screwdriver to punch out the dotted outline of your favorite scary pumpkin face or the outline of a haunted house. A light source inside will shine through the holes and illuminate your scene. A string of Christmas lights can be pushed through the holes for a sparkly effect.
  • Coat your pumpkin with chalkboard spray paint. Use a white chalk marker to create a spooky design.
  • Use a hairdryer to melt crayons over your pumpkin.
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Back Pain Backpacks Hand Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist – Backpack Awareness

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“Pack it Light, Wear it Right” 

Q: As a parent of elementary school children and teens, I’ve often wondered if the books they are carrying in their backpacks are too heavy.

A: Your intuition is on track. Statistics tell us that 79 million students in the U.S. carry heavy loads in backpacks. The risk associated with having back pain at an early age is that it often lasts through adulthood. In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission reported nearly 22,200 strains, sprains, fractures and dislocations from school-age children and young adults carrying backpacks who were treated in emergency rooms, physician offices and clinics.

Q: Are there guidelines for the weight these children should be carrying in their backpacks? 

A: Yes there is, and it is easy to remember. The backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s body weight. Students and parents need to pay serious attention to this guideline. One study showed 55% of students carried backpacks heavier than the guideline.

Here are some tips to consider when purchasing your child’s school backpack this month (follow the links below for more details):

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Arm Hand Hand Therapy Prosthetics

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Upper Extremity Prosthetics

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I have seen news stories about robotic arms. What is really out there for people to use? 

Advances in upper extremity prosthetics have come slowly over the last 100 years. The first prosthetics were cable-driven devices or body-powered prostheses. These required the user to be able to move his/her body (usually the shoulder) to pull on a cable to bend and straighten the arm or open and close a hook. Most big leaps forward have, unfortunately, come from wartime injuries. Cable-driven prosthetics became the norm around the time of WWI, WWII and the Korean War. During Vietnam, myoelectric prostheses emerged. Myoelectric prostheses are controlled with the electric signals produced by muscles in the person’s remaining arm. Now, after 15 years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the area of upper extremity prosthetics is ready to make another big jump.

Upper extremity prosthetics have made a splash in the news during the past 10 years as a result of the 2006 DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Revolutionizing Prosthetics project. The program grew from a desire to make an arm that moves exactly like a human arm. Dean Kamen (creator of the Segway) helped develop the DEKA Arm, sometimes called the “Luke arm” after Luke Skywalker. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab created the APL limb. While the APL limb is still in the research stage, the DEKA Arm was approved for the market by the FDA in 2014. Other prostheses on the market include the Michaelangelo hand from Ottobock, and the iLimb hand from TouchBionics.

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