• Hands with finger sprain

    Posted on 6/4/2019 by Victoria Trueba, MOT, OTR/L, CHT

     

    Finger sprains are very common. They can cause torn ligaments and broken bones even if you don’t see an obvious deformity and are still moving your finger. Earlier treatment allows you to recover faster, identify a more serious injury to your finger and begin the most successful treatment. Whether it’s a basketball player who jammed his middle finger against the ball, an employee late to work who slammed the car door on her finger or a dog leash that became tangled and pulled on a finger, digital trauma is nothing to shake your finger at!Case in point: Mrs. F,  a teacher’s aide working with children with special needs. One particular morning as the class was completing an arts and craft project, Mrs. F went to help a student who was becoming increasingly upset. As she was attempting to help the student, he accidentally grabbed Mrs. F’s finger instead of the crayon. Without thought, Mrs. F pulled away and her middle finger got twisted. She recalls the intense pain and immediate swelling she experienced after the injury; however, she thought the pain would go away on its own and that ice would help with the swelling.As the days went on, Mrs. F’s middle finger was not improving. It remained swollen, tender to the touch and she noticed bending and straightening became more limited. Her grip had been affected, and daily tasks such as grabbing the steering wheel and writing became challenging. Mrs. F remembers thinking, “But it was just a finger sprain!”Our fingers contain three joints, with the most commonly sprained joint being the middle knuckle. Our joints also have many ligaments, which serve as a type of checks and balance system that allows both mobility and stability. When Mrs. F was finally evaluated by an orthopaedic physician four weeks after her injury took place, she was diagnosed with a grade 1 injury to a ligament on the side of her joint – the culprit of her limited mobility. Grade 1 ligament injury is detected when there is localized pain and tenderness over the involved joint, noticeable swelling and possible bruising.Depending on the grade of the strain, different treatment options are available. In Mrs. F’s case, a grade 1 injury is less severe on the scale of 1 to 3. As the severity increases to grade 2 and grade 3, the integrity of the ligament is further injured, which results in a less stable joint and a need for prolonged immobilization. In some cases, these injuries may require surgery.We were able to treat Mrs. F’s grade 1 injury with 7-10 days of immobilization in a custom removable splint for eight weeks. This allowed the swelling to go down and the ligament to begin healing. Afterward, she wore fabric buddy tapes around her index and middle fingers to protect the middle finger from a sideways force. Needless to say, don’t be fooled by a ‘simple’ finger injury! Although Mrs. F had a grade 1 injury, she was still significantly affected in her ability to complete daily activities. By the time she began therapy, she had lost a considerable amount of motion in her finger and had begun finding ways to grip without using her middle finger. Even a low grade strain may require therapy due to stiffness, weakness, swelling and hypersensitivity to touch. Make sure to have an injury evaluated in a timely manner and get the appropriate treatment to avoid deficits in doing the things you love most.

    By: Victoria Trueba, MOT, OTR/L, CHT. Vicky is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist with Select Physical Therapy in Trinity, FL.

  • baby in graduation cap

    Posted on 5/23/2019 by Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm

     

    You just brought your perfect little bundle of joy home and are eagerly looking forward to watching them grow. A few months go by and you notice that their head shape is flat on one side. Why is this? Is it natural? Should you be concerned?

    In 1992, the American Association of Pediatrics launched its most successful program ever: the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which served to combat Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also known as crib death, is the sudden, unexplained and leading cause of death in children from one moth to one year of age. The campaign encouraged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs, helping to reduce SIDS by more than 40 percent.

    However, the “Back to Sleep” campaign had a now recognized unintended consequence: plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome. Plagiocephaly is characterized by the development of a flat spot on the back or side of the head. A baby’s head is very soft, and they spend excessive time laying on their backs while in cribs, beds, bouncers, car seats, high chairs, etc. This leads to an increase in the number of infants who acquire skull deformities.

    Why do babies’ heads deform?

    Plasticity of newborns skull make is susceptible to external pressures
    Immobility of newborns
    Abnormalities to the skull present at birth
    What are contributing risk factors?

    Prolonged positioning on their backs and back of head
    Lack of tummy time
    Multiple birth infants
    Neck weakness
    Is this serious?

    It is perfectly normal for newborns to have abnormal head shapes; however, they should resolve within a few weeks.
    If flat spots are still apparent, some help may be needed to correct the problem.
    Do a simple test by looking at your baby’s head and comparing to the chart below.
    To be sure of the normalcy of your baby’s head shape, consult your physician.
    Plagiocephaly Chart

    It is fixable? Absolutely! There are several treatment options to help correct the flat spot.

    Let nature take her course: Many minor flat spots will resolve on their own as the child ages, but try to keep your baby off their backs as much as possible by engaging in some quality tummy time.
    Tummy time: This can be done starting from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. Tummy time is simply that: placing your child, while supervised, on their tummy or side. This can include while being carried, diapering, feeding and playing. Please check out this tummy time guide.
    STARband: By using a plastic helmet that is worn for 23 hours per day, your baby’s head is gently guided into a more normal shape. Please consult your physician and/or orthotist for more detailed information.
    NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics offers complimentary consultations for cranial remolding helmets in many of our locations, courtesy of our certified cranial remolding specialists and orthotists. Our team will educate you on repositioning techniques, plagiocephaly and protocols for the device your child may use. Over the course of treatment, we can adjust the custom-fit helmet as the baby’s head improves.

    For more information or to schedule your complimentary consultation, please contact a NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics center near you  

    The cutie pictured above is one of our cranial remolding graduates, Arvy Roberts.

    By: Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm. Andrea is a certified orthotist with NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics in Sheboygan, WI.

    We have the same overall goals: obtaining outcomes and delivering exceptional patient experiences. In addition, we have sophisticated platforms to effectively partner with you and share data. Experience our compassionate approach and let us - in partnership with you - help your patients heal and get back to work, athletics and daily life.

    Refer a patient to our therapy team.

  • spilled pill bottle

    Posted on 4/23/2019 by NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy

     

    For the management of some types of pain, prescription opioids can certainly help. However, there is not enough evidence to support prolonged opioid use for chronic pain. And, unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue that can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse. If thrown in the trash, unused prescriptions can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. The misuse and abuse of over-the-counter medications, illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

    With that in mind, mark your calendar for Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, businesses, medical offices, agencies and first responders, hosts events to collect and safely dispose of unwanted medications.

    Removing unwanted or expired medications from the medicine cabinet is an easy way to make a difference in the opioid crisis. Make plans to dispose of unused and unwanted medications during DEA National Rx Take Back Day at a location near you. 

    And, remember: To achieve pain-free movement for enhanced quality of life and independence, rely on NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy’s team of extensively trained and licensed therapists. Our clinicians are movement experts who can identify, diagnose and treat your pain or injury and get you back to work, athletics and daily life.

    Working with a physical, occupational and/or certified hand therapist through a plan of care that is designed specifically for your needs is a safer and more effective long-term option than opioid use. Let us help you to experience the power of physical therapy today!

    Side effects include:

    Reduced pain
    Restored function
    Increased strength and flexibility
    Prevention of future injury
    Improved quality of life
    …And much more!
    Medicine dispensed includes:

    Manual therapy
    Aquatic therapy
    Hand/Occupational therapy
    Sports performance
    Work health
    …And much more!
    For more information or to request a complimentary consultation, please contact a center near you today.


     

  • Family doing laundry

    Posted on 4/15/2019 by Karrianna Gallagher, OTD, OTR/L, CHT

     

    Occupational therapist? I already have a job…

    The term ‘occupation’ is more general than what we typically think. Because a third of our day is spent at work, the word ‘occupation’ has taken on that set meaning. This is interesting given that another one third of our day is spent sleeping. So why isn’t sleeping considered an occupation? This is likely because everyone sleeps, and when you think of your occupation you think of something that is uniquely you. But what is uniquely you is actually a collection of occupations, not just the one that takes up the most time. You could be a mom, teacher, gardener, friend, sculptor, chef, etc. These are the roles that you identify with and the occupations that occupy your time.

    Occupations are how we define ourselves and how we experience life. It’s likely that some occupations take up more of your time than others, but that doesn’t mean you identify with them any less. Each of them is part of who you are.

    We live our most fulfilling life when we are able to participate in all of our valued occupations to the fullest extent. Now, imagine breaking your wrist or tearing your rotator cuff. Suddenly you can’t hold your baby, write a grocery list, chop vegetables, press down piano keys, throw a ball or achieve a full night of pain-free sleep (which we all know was already being interrupted by the baby!). Every part of who you are and the way you define yourself as a person is impacted by this injury.

    There are many members of the health care team who will play a part in helping you heal. One of the team members may be an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists have the knowledge of your injury accompanied by the expertise in analyzing the necessary activities in order to guide your rehabilitation program. Their goal is to ensure your range of motion, strength and endurance are restored in the safest, most efficient way so you can get back to fully engaging in all of the occupations you want and need to live your best life.

    Hand therapist? But I tore my rotator cuff…

    A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who has specialized knowledge in the upper limb - shoulders, arms and hands. The anatomy and mechanics of hands and arms is extremely complex and intricately connected, which is why it requires specialization. Think about all of the various movements you use your arms and hands for – turning a door knob, using a fork, tucking in your shirt, etc. Even seemingly simple tasks will be impacted by an injury to the smallest finger bone.

    What’s the difference in a hand therapist who is an occupational therapist and a physical therapist?

    More than 80 percent of certified hand therapists are occupational therapists, the other 20 percent are physical therapists. Both occupational and physical hand therapists have similar goals in terms of helping you heal from injury. The main premise of occupational therapy is the therapeutic use of meaningful occupation as a form of treatment. The idea here is to motivate a person to bend their elbow so they are able to feed themselves. In addition, occupational therapy has its roots in mental health. They can address not only the physical injury, but the emotional components as well.

    So, now you know… occupational therapists don’t help you find jobs and hand therapists don’t just treat hands. Occupational therapists who specialize in hand therapy are creative and caring shoulder, arm and hand experts. They take you on a rehabilitation journey where your ability to return to your unique collection of meaningful occupations is the finish line.

    By: Karrianna Gallagher, OTD, OTR/L, CHT. Karrianna is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist with NovaCare Rehabilitation in Minnesota. She has experience in rehabilitation non-surgical and surgical shoulder, arm and hand injuries.