Melbourne Hand Therapy’s popular physiotherapist, Terri Stanley-Clarke, has returned from maternity leave.
Melbourne Hand Therapy is thrilled to introduce our newest therapist, Nikita Kumar. Nikita is a highly experienced occupational therapist who has worked extensively in neurosurgery, trauma, and rehabilitation in both hospital and community settings in Melbourne and Auckland, New Zealand.
Over the last two years, Nikita has been working in private practice in Auckland, specialising in hand and upper limb therapy. Nikita is a self-confessed foodie who loves to travel and she can’t wait to see the sights of Melbourne.
Meet Sam, the new receptionist on our team. Sam joined us over the Christmas break and as well as being a champion receptionist, she is a star footballer who played for the first AFL women’s team to represent British Columbia, Canada.
The joint at the base of the thumb (the 1st CMC joint) is a very mobile joint and its large range of movement allows us to perform many of our day-to-day tasks. The downside of this mobility is that it can’t have the same boney and ligamentous restraints as some of our more stable joints (contrast this with our elbow, which is very stable but only moves in one direction) and so can be prone to developing instability and degenerative changes associated with osteoarthritic pain and dysfunction.
There is strong evidence for the use of "active management strategies" in the treatment of osteoarthritis including joint protection strategies, movement exercises, and strength training for decreasing symptoms and improving function.
The traditional strategies of management including splinting, activity modification, and assistive equipment all still have a role to play but emerging biomechanical studies demonstrate exciting possibilities to help maximise patient outcomes. What these studies and clinical experience are showing us is that in the absence of strong boney and ligamentous restraints, the role of muscles to act as dynamic stabilisers of the joints is essential.
By assessing the biomechanics of the thumb our therapists can identify weak muscles and unhelpful movement patterns. These may be putting stress on the joints of the thumb and contributing to pain and declining function.
Many of our patients have put off seeking help for their thumbs as they think osteoarthritis is just a part of getting older, or that nothing can be done for it. However, a tailored exercise program, in combination with splinting and patient-specific advice can make a huge difference to our patients. Recently, some of our patients have been able to get back to golf, cooking, carpentry, gardening, and general daily activities and all wish they’d come to us sooner!