By Shelia Tenny, OTR/L, CHT and Ellie Park, OTD/s
Avocado’s have increased in popularity, as the heart healthy benefits and high nutrient content of this super-food, have made them a favorite condiment, side dish, salad and sandwich topper. Let’s face it, they’re creamy and delicious! On the down side, there has been a rise in avocado related hand injuries due to self-inflicted knife accidents. The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons has even warned the public regarding the safety risk of cutting avocados.1
Carpal tunnel is one of the most well-known and commonly treated hand/wrist conditions. Some of the telltale signs of this condition include numbness and/or tingling throughout your thumb, index finger and middle finger, as well as weakened grip strength and decreased hand coordination. Not everyone notices pain, although pain in the palm or wrist is not uncommon.
The past eight months in my new role as a father-to-be has challenged my organizational, physical and power tool skills in order to prepare our home for the new baby’s arrival. During the week, I work 40+ hours as a hand/occupational therapist treating and rehabilitating patients’ upper extremity conditions. On the weekends, endless home improvement projects have left my hands, wrists, and elbows feeling more sore, inflamed and tighter than ever before. My own recent upper extremity symptoms have led me to practice everything that I preach in the clinic.
Hands are one of the most intricate parts of the human body. Approximately one quarter of all our body’s bones are found in the hand. These are moved by more than 30 muscles inside our hand. There are also three main nerves that supply the muscles and skin of the hand and more than 17,000 touch receptors that relay information from the hand to our brain.1
Hai Lam. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer. Clinton Loomis. While these names do not have the same mass recognition as popular athletes like Lebron James, Drew Brees, or even Mitch Trubisky, they certainly are recognized as the best in their sport. Not just any sport, but “esports,” if you will. Their offensive weapons aren’t balls, bats or sticks, but rather keyboards, headsets and hand-held controllers. Instead of defeating their opponent on an athletic field, their fields of play lie in the digital battlefields of games such as Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), League of Legends and Warcraft 3. These men were once at the height of their game. Veritable legends. Unfortunately their ascent into gaming immortality was cut short by upper extremity (UE) injuries from overuse and improper ergonomics.
Through my 20+ years of practice as an Occupational Therapist (OT), my skill set and how I apply my core knowledge of Occupational Therapy has evolved. I often get asked, “What is Occupational Therapy?” and given my personal experience, that can be a difficult question to answer in a few sentences. Since April is OT month, I thought I would take a minute to share my thoughts and experiences to provide insight on the wonderful profession of OT.
Spring is arriving and with that many people are heading outdoors to get started on their gardens. Although gardening is a great activity to spend some time outdoors, it also requires the use of the hands and wrists, which means these joints are at risk for injury.