Health Series: Rehabilitation of the hand


Several times we have had clients visiting our departments or calling for a home visit, at a stage when the condition is already critical or they have managed to meet someone who helps them gain an insight of the Rehabilitation department. In this section I want to talk about Rehabilitation of the hand, to prevent disability, assist with healing and to improve functionality.

We can all agree that the hand is involved in most of our activities of daily living and in most cases, both hands are needed to complete the task. However think of having to live most part of your life only using one hand because the other hand is now totally disabled or you could not come up with any innovative activity to do to help it. This article will help with some of the useful low cost aids that you can make and they will assist in preserving, teaching and preventing loss of hand function on that person, born with, who acquired or is at risk of getting disabled.

The hand is involved in all the necessary grips required to hold onto an item when moving it from point A to point B. It is also a driver of some the major movements of the body, for example, walking and without strength in the hands or the arms, one is bound to lose balance. Imagine not being able to write on your own or have to transfer hand dorminance. The dorminant hand, is that hand which does most of the work and is the initiator of hand activity, for example, most people are right hand dorminant.

Problems to hand function can be there from birth, can come secondary to a condition as one grows, can develop in old age or can come secondary to an accident. It is always important to follow the doctors orders during the recovery process as the hand has some delicate nerves which may suffer damage if forced to start functioning earlier. I have some people arguing, yes I went through the rehabilitation process but nothing seemed to help, yet they had already severed and damaged the nerves that were going to help improve their hand function through using wrong home remedies.

Remember this, even if you are going to do the activities and exercises from home, follow the doctors orders and seek professional guidance until you are confident that the individual or the guardian can now perform the activity well. Be on the lookout not to overuse the muscles or to under do it, while trying to be too protective.

Hints on low cost aids for hand function:

Peg board: This is going to be a cardboard that you will choose to make in a way that it can hold your pegs intact. The individual then takes turns to put the pegs on the board and also remove them. Monitor how they do it and also encourage their every effort. USES: muscle strengthening, improving pincer grip, improving hand~eye coordination, teaching repetitions and counting, teaching to improve on laundry, especially putting clothes on the washing line.

Skipping Rope: This can be made using any rope, plastic seals on bottle necks, rods and wet grass. The rope will assist in teaching arm rotation, grip strengthening, hand~eye coordination and engagement in entertaining activities. This will also be a nice team building activity when they skip rope and make friends, it also enhances creativity.

Small soft ball: This ball is going to be made from plastics, cloths or grass. The soft ball will be good for muscle strengthening, teaching power grip, teaching of repetitions, colour coordination and nerve stimulation. The individual should be allowed time to choose how they intend to hold the ball and clear instructions should be given on what you want them to use the ball for.

Doll: The doll is either going to be hard or soft and it will be made from soft cloths, hard cloths or plastic paper. In some instances people use grass but take note that it is not wet grass as it may rot inside the stuffing. The doll will be used for sensory education and reeducation, muscle strengthening and grip strengthening and also reinforcement.

Kite: This will be made using plastics, sticks and string. The major use is to help with teaching fine motor skills especially power grip. It also aims at teaching arm movements, that is elevation, rotation and sideways movements. During kite construction, the person also learns coordination of using both hands for tasks.

Rattle: Popularly known as “hosho” in shone, this is a useful tool for aiding with hearing. It is also useful for power grip strengthening, hand balance training and for coordination of hand movement when using two of them. The item is also useful for muscle strengthening.

Checkers: This is a board game where two teams or players are involved. The board is usually marked with two different colours to show the players the boxes to use for the game. Twenty four boxes are usually occupied with the checkers and each player as twelve. The major of this game is to strengthen grip, improve hand~eye coordination and to improve concentration. There is also enhancement of repetitions and rotatory movements of the hand and arm are done.

Container and counters: a combination of either a plastic, wooden or metal container with different counters, either stones, paper, wood or sticks. This is a good activity to aid hearing when dropping counters. It is also important to encourage repetition of hand activities. Also useful for muscle strengthening and teaching power grip.

Drum: You can either choose to make it small or big. The material to be used is either wood, metal and a combination of plastics or animal fur. The drum will be crucial in aiding hearing, assisting hand movement and also enhancing grip of larger objects.

Picture collage in a story book: Pick a combination of pictures in relation to what the person enjoys to do most or what you would like them to learn. Let them go through the book and also do the activities as they follow through. This is useful for strengthening paper grip, it also enhances hand and arm movement, depending on what activity you choose for them to do.

These are just few aids of my choice to help you gain an understanding that it is not too late to start performing that home program. It is not always about using too much money, start with what you have and help save a life. Some disabilities can be minimized just by the little effort we put in helping the individual become functional. Play your part and let God do the rest!!!

Disability does not mean inability!!!

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