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COVID-19 : An opportunity to enhance the practice of Hand Therapy

In a matter of a few weeks life has changed dramatically. COVID-19 has changed life for all of us. Our kids are out of school, people are out of work, getting routine medical care has largely come to a stop, and going out to dinner or going to the mall is no longer an option.

Just a month ago we were counting down the weeks to our Florida vacation, and now we’re wondering if we’ll be able to get more toilet paper when we run out.

There are people suffering significant losses. People that depend on their weekly income to pay for rent or food and have lost their jobs, people who have lost loved ones. These are unprecedented times but perhaps there’s an opportunity to grow from this adversity.

In these uncertain times, life cannot come to a halt. We need to move on, we need to move forward, and technology is a blessing that affords us the ability to do this. Students continue their studies, children engage in virtual playdates, workers from a multitude of industries continue to work, people from all faiths continue to pray in community, and telehealth allows patients to receive care from a variety of providers.

In 22 years of practice I have always treated my patients in a face to face encounter. While I appreciate the therapeutic effect of touch and the manual techniques we may utilize, I have ultimately come to the conclusion that the most powerful part of therapy is in the knowledge and encouragement we impart.

My goal as a clinician has become teaching patients the knowledge that’s needed to allow for optimal healing and giving them the ability and the tools to achieve an optimal outcome. Its less about what we’re doing and more about what they’re doing. So, in the end its our ability to communicate or “coach” that can make all the difference, and this is enhanced in telerehabilitation.

In telerehabilitation the distraction and passivity of unnecessary or ineffectual modalities is removed. The dependency that modalities and manual techniques can encourage is avoided. Instead we are teaching self joint mobilizations, scar management, and muscle energy techniques. Instead we are truly empowering and not encouraging dependency. While there are patients and situations that are better served by live encounters, telerehabilitation holds a valuable position in meeting therapy needs and should be considered as a viable option.

If you want to learn more about the role of telerehabilitation in the treatment of upper extremity and hand injury or impairment, please contact us at

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