Do you need to get a grip, literally? If you are recovering from a thumb injury or a broken finger or have trouble gripping, pinching or grasping due to arthritis; this lack of mobility and pain can interfere with your everyday activities. You may be asking yourself, “do I need to see a hand therapist?”.
Most of us are familiar with physical therapists and occupational therapists; but, if you have an injury or pain from a condition that affects your upper extremities—your hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder, you may also want to get acquainted with a hand therapist.
So what is a Hand Therapist? Hand therapists are occupational or physical therapists who have undergone additional training and certification to specialize in rehabilitation of the upper limbs. Hand therapists frequently work “hand-in-hand” with doctors and surgeons to help with healing, recovering strength and flexibility and ensuring proper rehabilitation.
A hand therapists’ keen understanding of the upper extremities allows them to assess and educate patients to help restore function and prevent future damage so they can return to normal activities and/or work as quickly as possible.
For example, if you are recovering from surgery on your thumb, initial treatment like heat, ice, and ultrasound may be recommended. Your hand therapist may also recommend that you wear a thumb splint to support and protect your thumb as you recover. As the inflammation and your discomfort subside, your therapist will work with you on particular stretches and exercises to improve your strength and flexibility and restore motion.
Recommendations on changing the way you use your thumb on a daily basis may also be given. Suggestions such as, “when stirring your coffee, hold the spoon in your palm with your fingers wrapped around the handle instead of pinching the spoon with your thumb” or using canisters with pump dispensers that don’t require you to push with your thumbs may be offered to help minimize your pain and maximize your healing.
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