Hands For Living_Don't Let Hand Pain Ruin Your Winter

Even hand therapists get broken bones… JoAnn Keller, OTD, OTR/L, CHT NEWSLETTER


A year ago, on New Year’s Day 2017, I smashed my left thumb while sledding on a big snow pile in Canada. Since I’m a hand therapist, I was pretty sure right away that it was broken, and an x-ray at a walk-in clinic confirmed it. Through the convenience of modern communication, I was able to text a picture of the x-rayto a friendlyhand surgeon, who confirmed that it didn’t need surgery…. But it would need to be in a brace for at least 6 weeks. I made my own custom thumb protector!


It was difficult to wear a brace (thankfully on my left hand!) and do all of my regular tasks as a hand therapist, as well as to ride my horse and take

Photo By: Amy Enderle

care of the house! During that time, I also went on a scuba

divingvacation withmyfamily. It was hard tomanage mywetsuit, gauges, andmask withmybrace, but I was able to get enough done that I still enjoyed the diving! The experience as a patient with a hand injury gave me renewed empathyfor what our clients go through. Some key reminders: 1. WEAR THE BRACE: It was critical to protect the injured and healing bone to let it heal as well as possible. 2. MODIFYACTIVITIES CREATIVELY: Istilldidmany things“normally”, though not everything. I was able to do some tasks by doing them one-handed, or in a different way than usual. 3. SKIP THE IMPOSSIBLE: There were some things, such as deep house cleaning, that just had to wait. 4. IT TAKES A LONG TIME – although the bone was

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“healed” in 6-8 weeks, my thumb remained stiff and painful for months. Even now, a year later, I haven’t forgotten the injury, though it does continue to improve. Get the help you need – from doctors, therapists, family, and friends – tomakeyour time as a patientasbearableaspossible! And always remember – it takes 12-18months for almost any significant injury to heal.


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