Hand Therapy Week 2020
Meet Dale, who visits Chantell Unnerstall, OTR/L, CHT at Axes Physical Therapy in Union, MO. Dale has always been a ‘handyman,’ pun intended. He’s a truck driver by trade, a dad and grandpa personally, and likely many, he is a gun owner. Gun safety has always been at the forefront of Dale’s mind, but in a freak accident cleaning his handgun at home, Dale suffered a gunshot wound to his left index finger in mid February of this year. He was immediately seen in the emergency room, and ultimately, his index finger was amputated. (medical photos below)
Dale’s wounds healed appropriately, but there was still a lot of ground to make up. Our index finger, along with the thumb and middle finger, is one of our most often used digits. The strength of our index finger is necessary for most daily uses like gripping, gesturing, and most every simple day-to-day activities. Dale had to learn to function with a left hand that only has four fingers.
Following his wound healing, he developed hypersensitive scarring and had reduced range of motion and strength. This pain and lack of mobility was impacting Dale’s ability to interact with his family and participate in his professional duties as a driver. His physician referred to hand therapy. Chantell’s first step was to fabricate a completely custom made protective splint for use during heavy activity. Dale’s treatment plan began with light active range of motion exercises (AROM,) massage, scar modeling, and coordination exercises. He then progressed to strengthening activities, functional gripping and pinching, and re-education of overall hand use.
Chantell and all of Axes Physical Therapy is proud to say that Dale is nearly finished with hand therapy. This month in June, he is returning to his regular work demands and social activities. He is now using his left hand for everything he used to, and without pain! As hand therapists, we see a large number of patients with injuries that could have been prevented with a little bit of understanding and forethought. As professionals, we are always striving to put prevention first. We are committed to excellence in the field of hand and arm rehabilitation and part of this commitment requires us to provide education and awareness to the public about our specialty. Although, when accidents and injuries occur, it is important that our community knows that Axes Physical Therapy is here to help.
About the Author: Chantell Unnerstall, OTR/L, CHT . A Washington native, Chantell graduated locally from Borgia High then completed her education at St. Louis University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy. Since that time, she has gone on to receive her certification in hand therapy and she has exclusively cared for upper extremity injuries for the past 20 years. She is well-known by local surgeons who rely on her skill to manage complex injuries and post-surgical conditions and she has cared for thousands of patients during her time in Washington. During her spare time, she enjoys golfing and spending time with her family and friends.