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Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center Can Get You Back on Your Feet

January 21, 2011

Hand Therapy Restores Function for Everyday Activities

Whether you’re a weekend warrior who just overdid it or are recovering from a serious injury or illness, the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center can help you get back on your feet. Highly trained physical and occupational therapists develop individualized treatment plans so that patients can improve their physical abilities and get back to their lives.

"We help people with everything from minor sports injuries to major physical impairments that are causing pain or limiting physical ability," said Sharmi Mukherjee, a physical therapist and manager of the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. "Our therapists focus on building strength and mobility and improving function."

The rehab center helps people who are suffering from pain or mobility problems due to an injury or illness, including arthritis, tendonitis, repetitive-stress injury, and bursitis, according to Mukherjee. It could be due to a sports or work-related injury, or surgery. "We see a lot of people who have had hip surgery, a knee replacement, or spine injury," she added.

After a thorough evaluation to determine pain levels, strength, and range of motion abilities, therapists and their assistants work with rehab patients to help reduce their pain and increase their strength and flexibility. They use ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other methods to reduce pain, swelling, and scar tissue, in addition to guiding patients through a physical routine, Mukherjee explained.

The exercise routines use a variety of equipment, including recumbent and upright stationary bicycles, an upper body exerciser, therapeutic exercise balls, and a treadmill, as well as other stretching and strengthening equipment.

"We provide a course of therapy designed to get people back to their previous levels of functioning," she said. "That might mean being able to return to their sport or job, or just being able to perform some of the tasks of daily living like getting dressed."

Restoring Hand Function

People who suffer from hand, wrist, or elbow pain due to a traumatic injury like a fracture, repetitive-strain injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or diseases like arthritis could benefit from hand therapy.

"Our goal is to restore function in the hands so patients can get back to their everyday activities like working or caring for their children," said Mark Neves, an occupational therapist at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. "About half the cases I work on are the result of a work-related injury. I do see some weekend athletes and young people who come in because they fractured their wrist or arm due to a sports injury or fall off a skateboard."

Depending on the injury, treatment might include hot packs to loosen joints and tendons or cold packs to reduce swelling, as well as splinting, according to Neves.

"First we need to address the symptoms," he said. "We create custom splints for fractures of the forearm, wrist, and finger that help with positioning."

When patients are physically ready, Neves starts them on hand exercises designed to improve flexibility, range of motions, and dexterity. These might include exercises using rubber bands or pliable rubber balls that can be squeezed and manipulated with the hands.

"For hand therapy, it’s not really about improving strength like other forms of physical therapy," Neves said. "It’s more about improving the motor skills in the hands so they can function as well as or better than before."

While the average course of treatment for occupational or physical therapy is about eight sessions, it can vary widely depending on individual circumstances, Mukherjee said. Patients must be referred to the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center by their doctors. The rehab center is located at 39141 Civic Center Drive, Suite 120 in Fremont.

Learn More

To learn more about the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, visit www.whhs.com/facilities/outpatient_rehab or call (510) 794-9672.