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Occupational Therapy with Susan Dorne Susan Dorne is a licensed occupational therapist with over 25 years experience. As a healthcare professional and an individual with MS, Susan is volunteering her time to help us in a question and answer format.

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  #1  
Old 09-11-2011, 04:54 PM
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rocky282 rocky282 is offline
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Hand Weakness

I have seen several therapists for my hand issues, and was told at a very young age that I had the beginnings of carple tunnel. When I was working with an occupational therapist she noticed that on my weak days I could barely close my hands, and on a strong day I was very very strong, way stronger than her. She tested me with a device that you grip in your hand and it measures the pressure. I can't seem to remember the high numbers but I know the low was somewhere around 3lbs of pressure, I barely wiggled the device. When I was strong I got both sides almost completly together. I have played drums for over 20 years so I imagine my hands have taken a good bit of impact damage.

Is there some exercise that can help strengthen my hands without damaging them? On those weak days doing anything around the house is almost impossible, including pulling up my own pants and buttoning them. If you can make any recomendations how to strengthen them or how to deal with the weak days, it is appriciated!
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:18 PM
SusanD SusanD is offline
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Exercise is always good, the mistake people usually make involves weights that are too heavy or poor positioning.

The hand is made up of many small muscles and also include muscles from the forearm. Exercising your forearm would include 'curls'. You can use soup cans all the way to little weighted dumbells. Hand goes up and down, and palm up and down (twist). You should stretch your forearm before without anything.

The best exercises for the hand include squeezing. The amount of resistance can vary. Start with a wet sponge, soft gel ball, to tennis ball , to resistance exercise items specifically made for the hand. You can use bag clips for squeezing exercise.
Using a rubber band looped between two fingers at a time and trying to separate them is very effective. Use loose ones. Start with the thumb and each finger individually to separate with the band, then try to separate the index with middle, middle with ring, and ring with pinky fingers. Don't get frustrated if it's hard to do, because it is! You can use tighter rubber bands as the muscle strength progresses.

Also, look at the items you use with your hands, pens, utensils and even your drumsticks. If you build up the grip, the hand doesn't fatigue as easily. Same with the weight. I know some sticks have more weight to them so if you can lighten yours up, that may help if you're still drumming.

Most people, when they feel stronger (in whatever part of the body,), we tend to over do it. We are having a 'good' day. But then we pay the consequence and fatigue kicks in. It can knock us out for a little while to days. Perhaps that may be another issue. Don't stop what you're doing, just think if there are ways to make it easier for your hands to work and maybe not work them so long. Rest them. This includes using the computer and typing a lot.

On the days you can't button, put on a pullover and have roomy elastic shorts/pants available to use. That will eliminate those frustrations.

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:55 AM
cosake cosake is offline
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Good ideas Susan - I might have to steal some of them.

I was battling right-hand weakness from an MS Flare and I was able to buy therapy putty from my local OT's office for just $ 5. You can start with a soft one and work up to something firmer.

My OT also recommended using the chinese balls or large marbles and moving them around with my fingers in each of my hands.

And she had me get a jar opener that will attach to underneath of cabinet and an electric can opener to help keep from straining the hand muscles too much. Hubby still hasn't installed the jar opener, but the can opener is great !

Good luck and I hope you find something that helps you.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:58 PM
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i use my daughter's play dough someone here gave me the idea when my hands became a problem. it works, it's small, i'm able to manipulate it and it has increased the strength and flexibility of my hand.

good luck!
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:15 PM
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rocky282 rocky282 is offline
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Thanks

Thanks folks, I have some of those Chinese balls so I will use them more. The kids have play-dough so I will give that a try too. I think most importantly I will try to be patient with myself.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:21 PM
Mermaid Susan Mermaid Susan is online now
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Thank you

Thank you Susan Dorne
and the others who have posted on this thread.

I found you today so discouraged about my inability to crochet for more than a short time when I so want to complete more hats for an upcoming craft fair. Stretching and working my fingers with the rubber bands gives me hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Stay lifted,
Susan (Mermaid)
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:21 PM
SusanD SusanD is offline
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There will always be better days or times to do things. If it wasn't the best day for you, then I always suggest this:

Stop, acknowledge that today is not the best day to do whatever you intended to do,
Think about something else you enjoy doing that would eliminate frustration,
OK to cry if frustrated by the situation but once you throw out the kleenex, move on,
Don't hesitate to voice frustrations to others who understand (with MS) such as MSWorld or calling MSFriends, a 24/7 peer telephone support group for people with MS answered by people with MS! 1-866-673-7436.
Exercise, stretch, do relaxation, put on music, a funny movie, .... the list is endless.

Having MS I understand. I like to emphasize that it's ok to let out feelings, to ask for help & Support. Most of all, I encourage all to do the best they can to keep a healthy mind, body and spirit. That's what I do, if not, who's going to do it for me?
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  #8  
Old 10-01-2011, 05:45 AM
readingteacher
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Thanks for all of the ideas! I just happened to take a peek on here, because I am experiencing some left handed weakness after my recent flare.

I have considered using play dough and those "squeeze balls" made to be stress relievers. I have (somewhere) a snowman themed squeeze ball. Gonna have to reread the suggestion about the rubber bands.

Susan, I'm glad you're on here, now. I like a lot of the new topic areas included on the message boards now. Been a long time since I was on here before. The newer (to me) topics are much more applicable to me than they would have been a few years ago.
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Old 10-02-2011, 05:09 PM
SusanD SusanD is offline
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Thank you so much for the feedback.

I hope the OT Forum is helpful, I enjoy hearing suggestions and experiences from people as well. It's a great community!
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:04 PM
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Strhuntrss Strhuntrss is offline
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Hand Weakness and Bottle Opener

My husband, the saint that he is bought me a bottle opener that is portable. He bought it on Amazon.

It is a round rubber opener with jagged edges on the inside with a black slide attached to it. I hang it on my key chain with my car keys.

When I found I could not open those 20oz pop and water bottles due to severe weakness in both my hands and had to ask him or a perfect stranger to help open it for me. He had the idea to go searching for something to help me. And he did. It is a Godsend for me. I even got one for my co-worker. There are products out there for us to help us through these trying times in our lives. Take advantage of them.

Hope this idea can help someone here. Take it from someone who thought she could do it all and now has to ask for help
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:53 AM
StarFlame StarFlame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshine008 View Post
i use my daughter's play dough someone here gave me the idea when my hands became a problem. it works, it's small, i'm able to manipulate it and it has increased the strength and flexibility of my hand.

good luck!
Now, this is good advice. You're not going to overdo the exercise but it provides just enough exercise.

Maybe light tapping on the table works as well? It's a little annoying to the people around you, though.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:20 AM
SusanD SusanD is offline
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There are many things available, and there are many things around the house you can use. Sometimes it just takes a bit of creativity.

If you have any of the non-skid pads for rugs (thin), cut a round piece and use it to help open jars, bottles and turn knobs.

Be sure to stretch out the fingers and hands, warmth can help relax tight muscles, build up thin items such as pens, pencils, toothbrushes, crochet sticks with a gripper that slides on. You can find them in office stores.
Alternate hands to do things.
REST your hands

And don't forget to ask for help when you need it!
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