Managing hand injuries at Christmas time

Alanna O'Brien, AHTA Accredited Hand Therapist

Christmas can be a very challenging time of year for many people.  There are many extra expectations and demands on our time and ourselves.

Having a hand and upper limb injury can be mildly to severely debilitating and affect many aspects of a persons life including:
-    Ability to work
-    Ability to look after self
-    Ability to care for a house
-    Ability to care for children, teenagers or older citizens.

Many of our clients don’t realise how frustrating injuries are until they can’t use their hands or they need to wear orthoses.  It can be challenging for other people at Christmas time to appreciate when someone doesn’t seem to be pitching in fairly.

Some of the most challenging occupations to return to work after hand and upper limb injuries, are carers, child care workers and cleaners.  These are the big tasks conducted at home.

Meal Preparation
Ways to make Christmas meal preparation easier:

-    Share the responsibility of different food to different people
-    Order pre made salads
-    Get butcher to prepare meat cuts how you like them or purchase easier cuts to prepare
-    Some cafes and restaurants sell prepared meats and meals you can pick up on Christmas Eve

Wrapping Presents
-    Using gift bags
-    Using double sided sticky tape from a dispenser
-    Using gift cards instead

Stress management
-    Remember everything is going to take a little bit longer than it usually does
-    Your patience for tasks will be half the normal tolerance
-    Accept help and be grateful for any assistance offered/received
-    Lower your expectations of yourself and others

-    Plan out your Christmas shopping. Research and look in catalogues – so you can just go out and purchase
-    Take pain management strategies.  A hot pack, ice pack, medications, splints, compression socks, etc
-    Try online shopping or click and collect for less stress of dealing with the crowds.

Hand Therapy over Christmas period
-    Many therapists will give you a home exercise program whilst there is decreased services due to public holidays
-    Ensure you check if your orthosis/cast can be removed or not.
-    Check whether it is safe to swim – in oceans, pools and spas
-    DON’T forget orthoses will melt when left in cars
-    An easy way to keep sand out of orthoses is to tie a pillowcase over your arm.
-    Disposable gloves, cling wrap and purpose made cast covers are all handy ways to keep your orthoses dry.

If you have further questions or require specific tips related to your situation, contact your local practitioner in hand therapy. Happy holidays to all!


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