Role of Occupational Therapy in Hand Rehabilitation
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is a type of rehabilitation carried out by an occupational or physical therapist in patients with hand and upper limb conditions. Therapy allows patients to accelerate their return to a productive lifestyle.
Patients who undergo hand therapy may be affected by trauma or an accident resulting in injuries, scars, burns, injured tendons or nerves, fractures, or even finger, hand or arms amputations. In addition to chronic problems such as arthritis or a neurological condition (i.e. stroke), other patients suffer from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Occupation-Based Hand Therapy:
Hand therapy mostly addresses the biomechanical issues underlying upper-extremity conditions. However, occupational therapy practitioners institute an added dimension to this speciality area. They use an occupation-based and patient-centered approach that distinguishes the participation needs of the patient - what he or she wants to be able to do in daily life that is fulfilling, necessary and accentuates the performance of desired activities as the primary goal of therapy.
What Does an Occupation-Based Approach to Hand Therapy Resemble?
The patient and therapist relationship is important to an occupation-based approach. Occupational therapists begin intervention with a patient-centered assessment tool. This type of tool will provide an occupational profile of the patient that focuses on functional deficits and desired occupational goals instead of concentrating exclusively on the physical components of function.
· Initial evaluation focuses on intervention in two ways. First, the therapist will know immediately what things the patient values and enjoys, and what he or she needs to “get back to.” This enables the therapist and patient to cooperatively set goals that reflect what the patient needs and wants to do. Second, the patient will understand that therapy is addressing his or her whole body, mind, and lifestyle including any psychological and social issues and not just an isolated injury.
· The therapist may begin with preparatory methods such as range of movement, muscle strengthening, physical agent modalities or purposeful activities (e.g. simulated occupations, occupational components or other relevant activities). The intervention expands as the patient progresses to address the actual performance of desired life tasks and occupations.
· The therapist selects activities cautiously, to be sure they relate to components or actual activities that the patient will be doing during or after rehabilitation and links preparatory methods to the ultimate end goal, which is to restart active participation to the possible extent.
· Activities may not be designed to aid with healing the injury itself; they may be used as a means of assisting patients to return to psychological and social well-being while waiting for their bodies to heal. Adaptations will be made to activities as appropriate to allow for immediate engagement if that is the desire of the patient.
· When possible, occupational therapists render splints and adaptive equipment that facilitate rather than curb early participation in daily activities such as dressing or driving.
· The final goal of occupational hand therapy is to ascertain that the rehabilitation process promotes healing and allows patients to carry out meaningful activities both in the clinic and in their daily lives. This approach encourages positive results for patients, including improving their satisfaction with the experience and results of therapy, maintaining their ability to play the desired roles in their family and most importantly experiencing the quality of life in its definition.
Advantages of Occupation-Based Hand Therapy:
Maintains roles and habits, as well as related psychological well-being, through attention to details of day-to-day functioning early in the rehabilitation process.
Enhancing motivation for treatment and more cost-efficient rehabilitation because patients can see a direct relationship between their occupational therapy intervention and being able to take up normal participation in their daily activities.
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