Hand Therapists Highlight Importance of Injury Prevention, Offer Tips

The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) is sponsoring Hand Therapy Awareness & Injury Prevention Week, June 9-13, in an effort to increase recognition of the benefits of hand therapy and the importance of injury prevention.

During the week of June 9-13, ASHT will be joined by hand therapists and healthcare professionals around the country in raising awareness of how hand therapy helps patients recover from injury or trauma every day. Hand Therapy Awareness & Injury Prevention Week is celebrated through community and local media outreach, promotional events at local clinics, partnerships with hand surgeons and hospitals, dissemination of information to patients and special recognition of hand therapists at clinics, among other efforts.

"The importance of hand therapy cannot be understated," said ASHT President Paige E. Kurtz, MS, OTR/L, CHT. "The specialized care hand therapists provide is critical to the recovery and healing process. It's important for those suffering from hand injuries or trauma to understand the role hand therapy plays in their ability to fully recover. It's equally important that everyone is aware of the risks of hand injuries and how to greatly reduce those risks."

Hand Therapists specialize not only in treating injuries, but prevention as well. As part of Hand Therapy Awareness & Injury Prevention Week, ASHT encourages the public to take extra caution and be aware of everyday activities which could lead to hand or upper extremity ailments. In conjunction with the June 9-13 awareness week, the society has posted a series of injury prevention tips and guidelines, covering activities such as gardening, cooking and playing video games. Visit www.asht.org and click on "Hand Therapy Awareness & Injury Prevention Week" to view the tips and for additional information.

The following are a sample of the professionally-designed guidelines for the use of handheld electronics and portable devices. From MP3 players to cell phones to portable video games, you can't walk down the street without seeing someone immersed in the word of handheld electronics. The repetitive use of these items can result in injuries that can be prevented by adhering to these tips:

  • If you have pain during the activity, stop. Pain is one of the ways your body is letting you know that you are overextending a particular muscle group.
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction. It allows for wrist motion in a plane where more motion is available in the wrist.
  • Take a break every few minutes or switch to another activity. Overuse of repetitive motions, such as pressing buttons, can cause tendonitis of the elbow or lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • If possible, place pillows in your lap and rest arms on pillows or use the device supported on a desk or tabletop. This allows you to keep your head in a more upright position and therefore decrease neck strain. The pillows or desk help support the arms so they do not have to be held up in the air.
  • Sit in an appropriate chair. This is a chair that allows you to put your feet comfortably on the floor and also provides good back support.
  • Switch hands frequently and vary the use of fingers/ digits. This allows the one hand or other fingers/digits to rest and reduce fatigue.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and focus on a distant object to help reduce eye fatigue.

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