A. Occupational therapy refers to any activity that “occupies” a person’s time. These could be work activities, daily activities, or leisure activities. Because most activities involve use of the hands, hand function has become a primary focus of occupational therapy.
Over 20 million people over the age of 45 in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, which often affects the hands. As a certified hand therapist, here are some tips that I make to patients to take the stress off their hands and make living with arthritis easier.
- Use your joints in a good position. Avoid stress at the end ranges or with twisting.
- Avoid activities that do not allow a change in position. When muscles tire, the force is taken up the joint, leading to pain.
- Respect pain. If pain continues for more than one to two hours after an activity has stopped, the activity is too stressful and should be modified or stopped sooner.
- Avoid activities that could lead to deforming positions. Use light-weight mugs. Dust with a flat hand and use your palms to open or close jar lids.
- Use larger joints. Carry bags on your shoulder or in your arms. Use your hip to close drawers. Use your forearms, not your hands, to take the weight of objects you are carrying.
- Balance rest and activity. Plan ahead.
- Organize and arrange space. Store items you use often in places that are easy to reach. Use small refillable containers rather than large heavy jars.
- Reduce the amount of weight you take through your joints. Use a wheeled trolley rather than carrying things. Slide an object rather than carry it.
For more information on occupational therapy, contact HealthPoint at 330-202-3300.
Published: October 4, 2011