When a person’s fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, forearms, or shoulders are injured, he or she can benefit from upper extremity therapy (more commonly referred to as occupational therapy). Typically provided by an occupational therapist (OT), upper extremity therapy takes into account a person’s lifestyle while addressing any pain or functional impairments. Occupational therapy can address: fractures, ligament injury, developmental disorders, nerve injury, pain, wound and scar care, neuromuscular pathologies, trauma, and amputations. Would care, taping techniques, massage, manual therapy, and biofeedback might also be used as treatment. If the OT sees fit, he or she might include a multi-disciplinary approach to include physical therapy or physician care.
After providing a thorough examination of the patient’s current state of mobility and functional deficits, the OT will provide a patient-specific plan of treatment. The course of treatment might include activities, exercise, stretches, modifications to typical home and work activities, pain management, use of assistive devices, and patient education. Upper extremity injuries can have a substantial negative impact on daily activities. Independence can be affected and each patient has different priorities when it comes to returning to normalcy. An OT is educated in self-care, mental health, and physical mobility; this is a perfect combination to treat the patient as a whole according to his or her needs, beyond the injury itself.