Therapy Basics

Getting a good result from surgery has a lot to do with the therapy that comes after surgery. How hard YOU work at therapy after surgery is as important as what the surgeon did during surgery. Bad results usually occur in patients who do not work at their therapy. You must work hard for many hours every day if you want the best results. Excellent results are seen in well motivated and dedicated patients who work hard with their daily home therapy. Do not rely only on scheduled therapy appointments to rehabilitate your extremity. Remember, the therapist is your coach and you must practice on your own. Follow instructions given and take charge of maximizing your outcome.

What to expect

Progress will be SLOW. A bad injury or major surgery will make your hand/wrist/elbow stiff. It can take even 6 months to a year for soft tissue to fully heal. Do NOT expect to be "normal" after a bad injury or major surgery. After a bad injury or major surgery your hand will never be exactly as it was before. The goal however, is to get it as close to normal function as possible.

Do these exercises below on every joint that is not immobilized. Do them every day. You will get more detailed instructions on how to work the joints that actually had the surgery.

Don’t forget about your shoulder! The shoulder often gets very stiff when any of the rest of the arm is injured. Reach all the way overhead like you are trying to touch the ceiling. Reach behind your back from below like you are trying to scratch between your shoulder blades. Rotate your arm up and down.

Six-Pack Exercises

See the diagram for six simple hand exercises. All 3 of the joints in the fingers and thumb interact with each other. It makes a difference what position one joint is in when you exercise another one. By doing each of the "six pack" exercises, you will make each of the joints in your hand move.

Hand Therapy BasicsHand Therapy Basics