When a person experiences a tendon injury in the hand that affects the ability to flex or extend the hand properly and in a safe way, he or she likely will have a difficult time completing everyday tasks, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, using the bathroom, and attending to chores at home and at work.

Every person's injury is different and the rate of recovery depends on the severity of the injury.

Occupational therapists who specialize in hand therapy can provide rehabilitation intervention that enables the hand to function well and prevent further injury.

What can an occupational therapist do?

  • Evaluate the patient’s injury following care by an orthopedist to coordinate treatment plans and determine the course of intervention.
  • Analyze the patient’s environment at home and work to identify potential barriers to the patient’s performance.
  • Fabricate a protective splint for the injured part of the hand and teach the patient how to manage daily activities while wearing the splint.
  • Recommend a home exercise program that will facilitate healing and optimum use of the hand.
  • Apply techniques to reduce swelling, prevent further injury, care for wounds, and improve movement.
  • Show the patient how to complete activities safely and independently while the hand is being rehabilitated.
  • Incorporate the patient’s goals and desires into the treatment plan.

What can a person with a hand tendon injury do?

  • Implement a home exercise program recommended by the occupational therapist.
  • Learn how to improve coordination to increase the use of his or her hand under the supervision of an occupational therapist.
  • Strengthen the hand and progress toward full use of the hand.
  • Set short- and long-term rehabilitation terms upon consulting an occupational therapist and other health professionals.
  • Learn how to perform daily activities, such as dressing, grooming, and driving, in a safe manner while the hand is being rehabilitated.

Source: The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. www.aota.org