Helping Hands: January 2, 2014

After a fall in the shower, Lorraine Distasio was left with two broken bones in her wrist. Over six weeks, she graduated and grappled with a series of casts and slings. It left Distasio feeling helpless.

“I knew it that I was going to need therapy for grabbing, picking up, just getting more strength in it,” says Distasio.

That’s where Brett Bennett came in. He is specialty trained in hand therapy.

“After their initial evaluation we’ll see them that same week or following week and start their actual therapy with them. And depending on what their problems are, usually it's a lot of stiffness, sometimes differential discomfort, we can use different modalities to help address those issues,” says Bennett, certified hand therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Whether it’s the result of injury, surgery or arthritis, hand therapy is meant to restore movement - a combination of low tech exercises and high tech tools round out the process.

Distasio’s favorite is the warm up, using fluidotherapy, which creates a dry heat whirlpool of corn particles to relieve pain.

“Well my hand gets put in that machine that’s got some grain in it and it heats it up. And I like the hotness on it, like a shower or heating pad makes it feel better,” says Distasio.

From here therapy becomes hands on, with exercises using elastic bands and squeeze balls. After which patients are given homework.

“A big part is getting them starting to move that extremity again. Whether it's a finger, whether it's a wrist or elbow and teaching them the appropriate exercises that they need to be doing at home,” says Bennett.

“I know that the more that I move it, the less then pain that I’m eventually going to be in,” says Distasio.

It’s a long road, with the hands doing the walking.