HULC creates tailor-made therapy programs for each patient to assist with rehabilitating diagnosed conditions and/or post surgical treatment.
Oedema (Swelling) Management
Oedema, also known as swelling, is an excess accumulation of fluid in the interstitium (the spaces between the cells in the body). The presence of mild swelling post injury or surgery is part of the normal healing process. However excessive amounts of swelling can have a negative impact on healing structures and slows down the healing process.
The lymphatic system is one of the most vital systems in the body. Its prime role is to remove excess fluid. Sometimes, post injury or surgery, the body produces fluid faster than it can be carried away. Various therapy techniques can help the body get rid of the excess fluid by moving it out of the hand and upper limb and back to the bigger vessels in the heart so it can be processed.
Therapists at HULC are specially trained in the use of techniques and tools to help reduce oedema rapidly and efficiently. Therapies include rest, elevation, ice, massage, compression and exercise.
The Hand and Upper Limb Centre takes a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management and follows current evidence-based research. Our goal is to provide quality treatment to achieve functional outcomes as soon as possible. To do this, we need to work closely with our patients treating GP, surgeon or pain management specialist, psychologist and other allied health staff. We also liaise with work places when required.
Treatment focuses on:
- Graded motor imagery program – using mirror therapies and laterality brain training
- Active range of movement program
- Thermal therapies
- Oedema management
Return to Work Advice
Communication between your hand therapist, treating surgeon/GP and the workplace can make returning to work after a hand injury a positive experience.
It’s important that a return to work is well organised and safe for the injured worker.
We like to assist with the planning for a return to work very early in the rehabilitation process if we feel suitable work is available for the employee and they are not at risk of re-injury. In more complex cases, we will seek a referral to an occupational rehabilitation provider for assistance with return to work planning.
Scarring is a natural healing process following injury and/or surgery. Scars are areas of fibrous tissue (collagen) that replace normal tissue following injury or surgery.
In some cases, the body can overproduce the collagen fibres used to form the scar, which causes it to grow excessively or adhere to internal structures.
The aim of scar treatment is to ensure smooth gliding of internal structures to maintain range of motion over the affected joints, as well as improve the aesthetic appearance. All HULC therapists are experts in treating scarring. Scar management treatments include scar massage, moisturising, desensitisation, compression and the use of silicone products.
Depending on the extent and severity of your fracture/injury, your level of sporting expertise and time post injury your therapist may fabricate you a splint to help you get back to the sport you love.
If you are under the care of a specialist hand surgeon or doctor, your therapist will seek their opinion on your return to sport and requirements for a splint.
Sports splints are often made from a combination of thick fabric (neoprene) and thermoplastic. Please bring your sporting equipment to your consultation so your therapist can best assess how to make this splint work for you.
At the Hand and Upper Limb Centre we specialise in fabricating custom ‘same day’ thermoplastic orthoses (or splints). Depending on the complexity of the splint, it will usually take between 10 to 30 minutes for it to be fabricated. There are several advantages to thermoplastic orthosis (splints) including being removable for wound care, lighter weight than plaster and they are able to get wet. They look much better than fibreglass or plaster splints, you can pick your favourite colour for the plastic and straps and they wipe clean.
Some patients, due to the complexity of their injury, their age, or their doctors request will not be suitable for a thermoplastic splint. If this is the case, your therapist will be able to discuss other options with you.
Your therapist will often provide you with a special hand ‘sock’ to wear under your splint, this material is called stockinet. You may gently hand wash these socks if they get grubby. If they need replacing, stockinet can be purchased from the clinic for $4 a metre.
If your splint does not seem to be fitting right or a strap becomes loose, please call your therapist immediately to arrange for it to be fixed. Please do not attempt to alter your splint.
Exercise Programs / Exercise Prescription
Our OTs are trained in exercises prescribed for the upper limb. They have extensive expertise and knowledge of the anatomy and conditions affecting the hand and upper limb. Using their knowledge and evidence based practices they will prescribe an exercise program based on your injury, lifestyle and work goals.
Our OTs have a variety of tools and equipment to compliment this knowledge. This will help you get back to doing things you love as soon as possible. Exercise equipment can also be purchased at the clinic.
Exercises may include a range of the following:
- Range of motion exercises
- Functional rehabilitation
- Weight bearing programs
Your therapist is qualified to perform complex wound care. If required, they can perform dressing changes, neurovascular tests to new flaps or graft sites and removal of sutures and steri-staples. Your therapist will also liaise with your treating surgeon or doctor if they become concerned of wound infection.
Spare dressings can be purchased from the Hand and Upper Limb Centre.