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Southern Therapy Celebrates Occupational Therapy Month!

April is Occupational Therapy month and Southern Therapy Services proudly celebrates the spring season and want to remind you to be safe and take care of your hands. They are your most valuable tool for the job of living.

As we eagerly await spring I am sure that you are much like me and begin to dream of spending time outside. I particularly get anxious about preparing my yard for the coming season of growth. As a hand therapist, I have observed each year the "weekend warriors" that end up in our office for treatment as it relates to injuries received to their hands and arms. It is with pleasure that I share with you hand and health safety tips to remember so that spring and summer truly remain an enjoyable time for you free from emergency and follow up rehabilitation.

  • Wear gloves when working outside. Wearing the proper gloves will not only reduce blistering, but will also protect your hands from fertilizers and pesticides as well as bacteria and fungus which live in the soil.
  • Avoid prolonged and repetitive motions. Unless you are accustomed to the activity, repetitive motions such as digging, raking, trimming hedges, pruning bushes or planting bulbs may cause skin, tendon, or nerve irritation. Make sure that your gardening activities are varied and tasks are rotated every 15 minutes with a brief rest in between so that the same muscles are not used over and over again.
  • Use proper posture. "Posture" refers not only to your whole body position, but also to such things as the angle of your wrist while using hand tools. Grip strength is at its maximum when the wrist is in a straight and neutral position.
  • Plan ahead. Use a basket or large handled container to carry supplies to the garden. The basket should be carried with both hands distributing the workload equally and decreasing stress on the upper body.
  • Don't sit back on your knees. Bending your knees this far is not only a hard position for the knee joint, but it requires you to push most of your body weight up with your hands and wrists. Instead, use a short stool or bench.

Article by: Vicki Maxwell, OTR/L, CHT. Vicki is a certified hand therapist and occupational therapist at Southern Therapy Services, Inc. She has over 20 years experience providing specialized care for the wrist, hand, elbow, and shoulder.