Hands are crucial to most of the activities that comprise a normal lifestyle. Hand injuries can thus be particularly difficult to navigate, as many of those activities now suddenly become difficult or impossible. With the help of the right therapist, however, Hand Rehabilitation can be a relatively easy process that can expedite recovery. Here’s a quick guide on various tools and techniques that can help a patient through hand injuries.
What are Hand Rehabilitation exercises?
Hand Rehabilitation exercises are designed to improve mobility, strength, and overall functionality in the hand. Typically, there are two kinds of hand exercises prescribed by physiotherapists:
- Strengthening exercises, that employ resistance from an elastic band or a gel/foam ball to improve muscle strength
- Mobility exercises, that increase the hand’s range of motion
Patients who have undergone hand injuries with lengthy recovery times may need Hand Rehabilitation exercises to make a complete recovery. These exercises are also useful for chronic illnesses like Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, where joint pain and stiffness become progressively worse over time. If done correctly, the exercises can enable both gross and fine motor skills that are essential for daily activities like picking things up, feeding oneself, opening doors, and carrying bags.
Simple Hand Rehabilitation exercises to try
Certain types of Hand Rehabilitation Therapy may focus on restoring strength and mobility, while others may focus on enhancing functionality. Based on the nature and extent of the injury or inflammation, the therapist may recommend one or more of the following exercises to improve mobility and strength.
- Making a fist: Starting with the fingers stretched out, make a fist and then release it
- Wrist extension: Keep the wrist elevated by resting it on a soft edge, and then move the hand fully up and down with the palm facing either upward or downward
- Finger lift: Place the hand on a flat surface and individually lift each finger, with roughly 8-12 repetitions
- Finger stretch: With the hand resting on a flat surface, gradually straighten the fingers and hold the position for up to a minute; release and repeat
- Claw grip: With the palm facing upward, move the fingers into a claw stance and hold it for 30-60 seconds
- Thumb extension: Move the thumb to the middle of the palm and back, and repeat around 8-12 times
- Thumb touch: Hold the hand straight ahead, bring the thumb up to touch each of the other four fingers in the shape of an O, hold the shape for up to 60 seconds, then release and repeat
- Pinching: Pinch a foam ball between the thumb and index finger, hold for a few seconds and release; repeat around 10-15 times
- Grip strengthening: Squeeze a foam ball with as much strength as possible for roughly 10-15 rounds
- Opposition: Place the ball in the palm of the hand and bring the thumb towards the little finger and squeeze; repeat this 10-15 times
- Finger squeeze: Balance the ball between any two fingers and then bring them together and squeeze and hold; repeat 10-15 times
- Thumb pinch strengthening: Pinch the thumb hard against the side of the index finger and hold for a few seconds
- Pinch and release: Place a pen or pencil on a flat surface and gently grip it with the fingers; hold, release, and repeat
The best tools for Hand Rehabilitation
There are several inexpensive tools that can help build strength in a patient’s affected hand which are also easy to use. Some of the tools your therapist might recommend include:
- Hand Therapy balls, across a range of softness to pose enough of a challenge for people with different degrees of injury
- Therapy putty
- Finger strengtheners for rebuilding hand muscle
- PVC pipe trees to practise fine and gross motor skills
- Mirror Therapy, a particularly useful tool for those with hand paralysis
When investing in a tool, it is important to pick something that you will be motivated to use every day, as consistency is key in Hand Rehabilitation.
In conclusion, recovering from a hand injury or combating chronic hand pain requires regular Physical Therapy to gain back functionality. While many of these exercises may seem too challenging at first, continue practicing, and slowly increase the number of repetitions or the amount of resistance. Over time, you will feel your strength and mobility return, and you will be able to enjoy doing things on your own again.