Fingers On The Mend – What To Expect From Occupational Therapy

7 April 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Sometimes it takes having a finger or two injured before you realize how much you need that appendage! If you experience a fracture, injury or have surgery on one or more fingers, it won't take long before you figure out how much you miss being able to use them. Sometimes the best way to get your fingers back to properly functioning is by attending occupational therapy.

If your doctor prescribes occupational therapy and you've never been before, it might raise some fears. While you can anticipate putting in hard work, you need not be fearful. While all therapists do things a little differently, you can expect to come across some of the following.

Regaining Range of Motion

Your fingers will probably be immobilized by a splint or bandages at the beginning of the healing process. This means the range of motion will be limited until your doctor gives the thumbs up for you to begin moving them again. While restricted, muscles and joints begin to tighten up and stiffen. It's important that you start to move and stretch your fingers as soon as you are allowed. This helps ensure that you will regain best possible usage.

Your therapist will teach you some stretching exercises during your session. These may include

  • Making a fist then opening and spreading your fingers to stretch them wide.
  • Bending your finger in towards your hand and holding it there with your other hand.
  • Flexing your fingers back and applying light pressure with your other hand. Another variation is to use a table or desk to press your fingers down into while flexing your hand back.
  • Placing your hand down on a table then gently straightening your fingers, so they are flat against the surface.
  • Placing your hand flat on a table and lifting one finger up, then lowering it before moving to the next one.

You will likely be told to do these exercises at home. The therapist will give clear instructions on how many repetitions per exercise and how many times a day you should perform them. Do yourself a favor and follow through with your homework!

Strength and Dexterity Training

Muscles that haven't been used will be weak and need some training. Occupational therapy will provide you with the means to get your strength and dexterity back to where daily tasks are routine.

Strength training will likely include aides such as modeling clay and foam or rubber balls. You may also be given exercises that involve:

  • Picking up small items such as beans
  • Tying and untying bows and knots
  • Stringing beads

As with the stretching exercises, be sure to follow the instructions from your therapist.

Some therapy sessions may also include soaking or icing your fingers. This partially depends on the injury you had and where you are at in the healing process. For more information, visit sites like