Category : Hand Therapy

Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy Pumpkin Carving

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

pumpkins-cropped

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

backpack cropped

“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

prosthetic arm cropped

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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Hand Hand Therapy Heat Treatment Ice Treatment

Random Fact: Heat and Ice Treatments

Close-up Of Hand Holding Ice Gel Pack On Elbow

Did you know? Heat speeds up molecules, while cold slows them down. Learn more about how heat and ice can help your hand injury, stiffness or pain.

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3D Printing Hand Hand Therapy

3D Printing in Hand Therapy

Woman using wrist immobiliser after hand's injury

3D printing technology is on the rise, and there is increased use by professionals and laypersons. Someday soon, this amazing technology will give hand therapists a remarkable tool to make “in-house” assistive devices, hand exercise equipment, therapy tools, orthotic components and orthoses (formerly termed “splints”), and more.

What are 3D printers and how do they work?

There are different types of 3D printers that use various processes to create objects. The most common type of 3D printer in the consumer market uses plastic filament with a price range of about $500 to $4,000 (Figure 1). Think of it as a highly sophisticated hot glue gun, which melts plastic filament and deposits it in layers from the bottom up to form an object (like building a brick wall). A digital file provides the “virtual blueprint” for instructing a 3D printer where to lay the plastic to form an object. These digital files are created by persons with skill in using computer design/modeling software or from scans of objects (using scanning technologies and even data from MRI or CT scans).

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Hand Hand Therapy Joints

5 activities that hurt your joints

Hand Deformed From Rheumatoid Arthritis. Studio shot. Pain condition. In red

Certified hand therapist Michelle McMurray, MOT, OTR/L, CHT discusses how you can save your joints while performing daily activities.


Sometimes it is our small, every day activities in our daily routines that we overlook.  As we get busy with our daily lives, sometimes we are not aware of the little things that we do that can ultimately add up to big problems.  We hear about many things that we can do to protect our joints, but in the business of daily lives we forget about ourselves…and our joints.

Here are some examples of some basic tasks we do all the time that can eventually lead to bigger problems:

1. Cleaning

When scrubbing carpet to remove a stain, it is very common that we pinch the cloth and apply pressure.  A big problem that can occur if you happen to quickly catch the end of your finger is a mallet finger.  This is an injury that leaves a droop at the end of the finger. The rehab process can be long and tedious. The easiest way to avoid this is to grip the rag with a fist or use a brush with a handle.

2. Writing

With technology, we do not write as much as we did in the past.  In that case, we are sometimes hurried when doing this activity, which may lead to increased pressure and gripping on the writing utensil.  One thing that can help to decrease the pressure on the thumb is increasing the diameter of the pen/pencil.

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Elbow Hand Hand Therapy Wrist

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Desk Posture

a woman sitting at a desk and has pain in the back. symbol photo for proper posture at work in the office.

I sit at a desk most of the workday, keyboarding. My wrists and elbows are always aching. Is there anything I can do?

If you spend most of your day at a desk, your work station should be evaluated and adjusted to ensure proper positioning and desk posture. Your work station should be set up specifically for you. There are many symptoms that may occur from sitting at a poorly designed work station. These symptoms include fatigue or soreness of wrists, elbows, neck, scapular region and lower back. Eventually, if these signs aren’t addressed, you may start to experience pain or numbness and tingling in these areas. If your work station is shared, it should be adjustable to fit the needs of all who use that workstation.

What should my work station look like?

Proper workstation assessment should include looking at the height of your chair, the type of keyboard and mouse you’re using, and position of your monitor. Proper height of your chair should allow ankles, knees, hips and elbows to rest at 90 degrees.

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Hand Hand Therapy Wrist Fracture

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on FOOSH – Hoverboards & Beyond

Close up of hoverboard from front top view with one of the riders feet on top and the other on wooden floor

My neighbor recently had a FOOSH walking on an icy sidewalk, and when she told me she broke her wrist, I was curious about the acronym. Exactly what does a FOOSH mean, and what type of injury occurred?

A FOOSH means a “fall on the outstretched hand,” and the most common injury is a distal radius fracture. This type of fracture involves the end of one of the two long bones in the forearm (see photo). These injuries are more common in females in old age (over 65) due to the higher incidence of osteoporosis.FOOSH 1

The advent of the hoverboard has rapidly increased the incidence of wrist fractures in a young person. In fact, hoverboard injuries have increased so rapidly, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to users about fall risks. Please watch this brief video to learn more about these injuries and to be aware of precautions if you’re planning to attempt use of these products.

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