American Association for Hand Surgery
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Hand Therapist and Affiliates' Corner

Rehab for Wrist Injuries: A Brief Literature Update

Sue Michlovitz, PT, PhD, CHT
Sr. Affiliate Director

Patients who have difficulty recovering following wrist injury have consequences including: persistent instability and weakness; pain during activity, often involving weight bearing and torque; and joint stiffness that can leading to loss of functional range of motion. The therapist should be attuned to findings from research that may assist in promoting functional recovery in patient populations with wrist injury. Information that can assist the therapist can include knowledge of practice trends, assessment techniques and treatment strategies. Selected recent articles are listed for the interested reader. Any of these articles would serve for interesting discussions in your practice’s journal club or inservice education.

Practice Patterns

Prosser R, Herbert R, LaStayo PC. Current practice in the diagnosis and treatment of carpal instability— results of a survey of Australian hand therapists. J Hand Ther. 2007; 20(3):239-42.

Patient-rated assessment questionnaires:

McMillan C, Binnhamer P. Which Outcome Measure is the Best? Evaluating Responsiveness of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand Questionnaire, the Michigan Hand Questionnaire and the Patient-Specific Functional Scale Following Hand and Wrist Surgery, Hand 2009;4 (3)

Intervention strategies:

Hagert E. Proprioception of the Wrist Joint: A Review of Current Concepts and Possible Implications on the Rehabilitation of the Wrist. J Hand Ther. 2010;23(1):2-17. (A summary of her research and clinical applications)

Lucado AM, Zhongyu, Russell GB, Papadonikolakis A, Ruch DS. Changes in Impairment and Function after Static Progressive Splinting for Stiffness After Distal Radius Fracture.

J Hand Ther 2008; 21(4), 319-325. (Using low load prolonged stress to improve motion following joint contracture is not news to any of us. But well designed clinical studies to examine the effectiveness of orthotic are not abundant. This Level 3 study adds to our knowledge base)