Some may think that recovering from an injury or illness ends after surgery. But for many hand conditions, occupational therapy is prescribed by your hand specialist to ensure that you have the best outcome possible. In this blog, you’ll learn why our hand surgeons feel occupational therapy is an important part of the healing process.
Before we begin, let’s quickly start with what occupational therapy is! According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to participate in daily living…
- Activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, and eating)
- Adaptive equipment (such as shower chairs, or equipment to make daily tasks easier)
- Planning and making the most of daily routines
- Returning to work, school, and leisure activities
- Falls prevention and home safety and accessibility”
Why do surgeons refer patients to therapy?
Hand and orthopedic surgeons refer patients to physical or occupational therapy to provider their patient with better recovery outcomes. A patient who attends occupational therapy after hand or upper extremity surgery will likely have a faster return to work and other daily/leisure activities. Occupational therapy also provides services like scar massage and remodeling to help with scar formation, custom splinting to provide bracing that meets the individual needs of the patient and patient education for future injury prevention.
Does every patient need occupational therapy?
Short answer, no. While not every patient needs therapy, most patients will benefit from it! Those who have undergone surgery are more likely to boost their post-op recovery during therapy. For those with mild conditions, occupational therapy can also be used as a first line intervention to help avoid the need for surgery all together.
Which conditions benefit from OT services the most?
Occupational therapy can assist with many hand conditions, whether it’s hand therapy, home exercises or custom splinting. Some of these conditions include:
- Tennis elbow
- Thumb arthritis
- Any tendon and nerve injuries
- Hand and wrist fractures
- Any conditions that results in a loss of mobility
What differences do you see in patient outcomes in those who attend therapy vs those that choose not to attend therapy?
In most cases, those who attend occupational therapy tend to have decreased pain, increased range of motion, an earlier return to work and activities and overall better patient satisfaction.
Some patients choose not to attend therapy at first, and that’s ok; there is always time to go back to it. Occupational therapy is a topic that is often revisited at a monthly check-in.