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Hand treatment is fun and games for children at Alexandra Hospital

Children suffering from nerve damage or a lack of movement in their hands after an injury are recovering more quickly and effectively thanks to innovative new hand splints created at Alexandra Hospital.

After a hand fracture or dislocation, patients often suffer reduced movement in their hands or fingers as a result of their injuries. Once healed, patients need therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons in their hand to restore their full movement.

But Occupational Therapists at the Alexandra Hospital found children often don’t complete their exercises in order to strengthen their hands again. To help this, the specialist staff have created inventive new splints, which are personalised to each patient and involve games or mini toys to encourage children to do their exercises.

By making the exercises personal and meaningful to each individual patient, the Occupational Therapists have noticed improved outcomes for patients.

Ten-year-old, Lydia Amor was suffering from long term nerve damage and hypersensitivity after breaking and dislocating three fingers following an accident on her scooter. To help Lydia regain the full range of movement in her fingers and reduce her hypersensitivity, Occupational Therapist Sunita Farmah built Lydia a special hand splint that involves her making specific movements to run a tiny ball through a toy maze made from Thermoplastic on the back of her hand.

Completing the toy maze involves Lydia having to improve the range of movement in her wrist to move the ball around the maze in the splint. The splint has different scoring challenges within the maze, so as her movement improves so will her wrist strength and balance – as well as her scores!

Lydia’s mum, Katie said: “Sunita has helped Lydia gain better use of her hand with her ongoing patience and creativity. She goes above and beyond and this new splint has added an element of fun to Lydia's therapy.

“Lydia also likes the idea that the splint is made especially for her as it makes her feel special, so she can forget about the pain and enjoy the fun the splint creates.”

Sunita and her colleagues have built various different games and puzzles into hand splints, to encourage children to move their hands in different ways and improve their movement without it feeling like a chore.

Sunita said: “We’re trained to look at the whole person, not just at their hand. So we try to make our treatments meaningful and personalised to them. We know some of our children don’t like to do the exercises they’re given, so we try to make it fun for them and make it a good challenge for them to complete.”

Katie added: “I can’t thank Sunita enough for her ongoing support and help. She is amazing at her job and is so caring and supportive; nothing has been too much trouble.”

The hand service at Alexandra Hospital treats around 600 different patients every year, for conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia as well as finger fractures, dislocations and tendon or nerve damage.

4ward is our Trustwide culture change programme which is helping us build a more positive, supportive workplace for the benefit of our patients and colleagues. At its heart are our four 4ward Behaviours.