News

8 December 2022

Updates & Communications
December 2022

  • What's New This Month:
  • Word from Jen
  • Criss-Crossing the Continent for Accreditation
  • Busting a Bicep
  • Christmas Opening Hours
  • Christmas and Brewery Make Perfect Party
  • That’s a Wrap for 2022
  • Fast Five with Jen Mathias

WORD FROM JEN

Jennifer Mathias
MHT Director
Senior Clinician

Here we are, at the end of the year with Christmas just weeks away. Where did 2022 go?

With lockdowns now firmly behind us (and aren’t we all relieved about that!), it’s been a hectic 12 months at MHT. We’ve regained our stride and thankfully practice levels have returned to pre-Covid levels. But navigating the virus is still a challenge, as is coping with the stifling N95 masks.

Personally, I miss being able to attend hand surgeries. Hospitals are, understandably, cautious about the number of external people attending theatres. Fingers crossed 2023 will see a further softening of the rules.

Over the past 12 months, we have welcomed more people into the MHT family, with a special mention to our wonderful hand therapists Nikita Kumar and Lucy Barrett. And, spoiler alert, we will soon have some new faces to add to the team.

Unfortunately, 2022 saw us lose our beloved Bellbird Clinic when it was taken over by the State Government to be used as a public hospital. While stressful at the time, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as our long-time Bellbird therapists Emmeline Fook and Haley Field moved to new more modern premises at the Blackburn Clinic on Whitehorse Rd.
They are loving it!

And, because we weren’t busy enough, we also expanded our Knox practice into the Victorian Bone and Joint Specialist Clinic.

This year, all our fabulous therapists amped up their commitment to their patients, undertaking numerous postgraduate courses and development opportunities. From acute fracture management to closed trauma courses, to elbow workshops, Orthotic Fabrication Mobilisation education and the completion of a PhD. Congratulations again, Rose Alibazi.

Several MHT therapists have also shared their time with The Alfred and Royal Melbourne Hospitals, undergoing further studies and ongoing teaching commitments.

Over the Christmas and summer period, we will still be open. Nobody knows more than we do that injuries don’t take holidays. In my experience, injuries love holidays! So, see the article below for opening times at our various clinics over the break.

Big end-of-year thank you to MHT’s 12 amazing therapists and all our fantastic administrative staff. Your care and commitment to the well-being of our patients is outstanding.

Mostly though, I want to thank you, our patients, for giving us a much brighter 2022. Thank you for your loyalty, patience and trust. Thank you for the chats, the laughs and for letting us hold your hands during the tears.

As always, it has been a privilege.

Merry Christmas. Stay safe. We’ll see you in 2023.

Criss-crossing the continent for accreditation

Over the last couple of weeks, our therapists have been crisscrossing the country to further their professional development and gain accreditation in various areas of specialisation.

Here, three of our staff take you through their recent post-graduate education with the country’s peak hand therapy organisation, the Australian Hand Therapy Association (AHTA).

Kate Rayner from our La Trobe clinic is already a highly qualified and accredited hand therapist and recently flew to Adelaide for her 20th professional development course. Here she talks about the opportunity to learn new skills and consolidate existing ones.

“I attended the elbow course run by the AHTA in Adelaide. The two-day course covered a variety of elbow injuries and conditions, both conservatively managed and post-operative, including tennis elbow, biceps tendon injuries and elbow fractures,” she said.

“It was great to be able to attend courses face to face again and while I’m already an Accredited Hand Therapist, it was an excellent opportunity to consolidate existing skills and learn new ones to provide best practice, evidence-based treatment for elbows.”

Lucy Barrett, who works across four MHT clinics, attended another AHTA course, this time in Perth. Being a keen hockey player and runner, she is particularly interested in sporting injuries.

“The course focused on mobilizing splints which are a special type of splint that aim to improve one's movement through the use of elastic bands, fishing wire and other materials,” she said.

“The course went on for two days and at the end, we had to complete an exam and an assignment. The course was long and intensive but worthwhile as it helps to contribute to my aim of becoming an Accredited Hand Therapist,”

Here you see a splint that works on gaining one's mobility following a nerve injury and the other is to work on a range of motion in a stiff wrist.

Meanwhile, Jaime Do, who works across three of our clinics and is also working towards becoming an Accredited Hand Therapist, attended the AHTA’s intensive Open Trauma course in Melbourne.

‘I too am working towards getting my Hand Therapy accreditation with the AHTA,” he said.

“I attended the Open Trauma course last month. It was a very intensive course that ran for three days and focused on the assessment and evidence-informed treatment of complex open-hand trauma cases.

'A wide range of conditions were covered including rehabilitation after a brachial plexus injury, humeral fractures, flexor and extensor tendon repairs and digital amputations.”

Busting a Bicep

By Jaime Do

Distal bicep tears/ruptures

You might well have heard of people injuring their biceps while working out at the gym. This is true. The bicep muscle is located at the front of your upper arm and helps to bend and rotate the arm. A bicep muscle injury is called a distal bicep tendon tear and generally occurs when the tendon is overloaded at the site where it is attached to the bone which is at the elbow joint. This kind of injury is caused by sudden trauma or forceful eccentric contraction. In other words, during a bicep curl while moving a heavy weight from a bent (flexed) elbow to a straight (extended) elbow position.

The biceps brachii muscle is the large muscle at the front of the arm. It originates from two heads at the top of the shoulder and inserts below the elbow at the radial tuberosity. A distal biceps rupture means that the tendon is either completely or partially torn from the insertion point below the elbow.

Other Causes

Distal bicep tears also occur outside of the gym. At MHT, we have treated patients who have injured their torn bicep tendons by reaching out their arm to catch a falling object or pulling up a garage door and moving heavy boxes. Partial tears can also occur due to chronic degeneration.

Risk Factors

  • Men aged over 30 years old are most likely to rupture the distal biceps tendon
  • The use of anabolic steroid medications can decrease the tensile strength of tendons

Signs and Symptoms

Some people report feeling or hearing a ‘pop’ in their elbow at the time when the bicep tendon ruptures. Significant pain may also be present initially but often subsides after a week.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling and bruising around the elbow
  • Weakness in supination (twisting the forearm) and elbow flexion (bending the elbow)
  • A bulge may be observed in front of the upper part of the arm due to the bicep muscle recoiling, known as a ‘Popeye sign’.

Treatment

In most instances, distal biceps ruptures require surgical repair to reattach the torn tendon. Urgent surgical intervention is required to improve outcomes and reduce the risk of a torn tendon adhering to a different site in the arm.

After surgery, rehabilitation often involves a period of immobilising the elbow in a sling, thermoplastic splint or hinged brace for up to 6 weeks. Your therapist will guide you through an appropriate rehabilitation exercise programme. This will initially focus on an assisted range of motion through the limited range, which will be progressively increased to achieve a full elbow range of motion. Commencement of strengthening exercises will be dependent on your specific surgeon’s advice and post-operative instructions. Many surgeons do not allow strengthening until 12 weeks following surgery.

Melbourne Hand Therapy Can Help You

If you suspect that you have a distal bicep rupture, then you must seek medical attention urgently.

At Melbourne Hand Therapy we can assist in providing a quick diagnosis and guide you through the referral pathway to see a surgeon for urgent consultation and surgery.

Following your surgery, we can provide you with the appropriate splint or brace that your surgeon has recommended and will progressively rehabilitate your arm to allow you to return to full function.

Christmas Opening Hours

There is a vast amount of knowledge that has been accumulated among our MHT therapists. But you don’t need their decades of studying and experience to be told that injuries don’t take holidays. Nor, do they celebrate Christmas or relax on the beach with a good book over the summer break.

So, MHT will be open over the festive and holiday season. Our Elgar Road practice will be open from Dec 28 to December 30. Blackburn will be open on Thursday, Dec 29; La Trobe on December 30 and the East Ringwood clinic will be open on Dec 29 and December 30.

Business returns as normal from Jan 2023. See you then.

Christmas and Brewery Make the Perfect Party

Thank you to craft beer specialists, Deeds Brewery, for hosting MHT’s Christmas party.

It was a hilarious night and a great chance for all of us to catch up together.

Ordinarily, we’re like ships in the night – one going into one clinic as another one comes out with quick chats on the doorstop before heading off to our next patient.

We were even given our own private dining room which was much needed as we all scrambled to catch up with each other’s news and finally let our hair down. The wine had nothing to do with it.

The food was fantastic, the company was excellent and we even managed to grab a snap of the Roaring 40s football team that MHT sponsors along with Deeds Brewery!

Of course, no one has ever heard us refer to them as “the old man’s non-contact footy team”, especially as the boss’s husband is one of them.

Merry Christmas all. Stay safe and we’ll see you next year.

That’s A Wrap for 2022

Fingers crossed we are heading into a traditionally hot Australian summer. But let’s not jinx it by being overly confident. We all know how the last 12 months have panned out with regard to the weather.

Our therapists are looking forward to a Christmas break with plans firmly in place for family get-togethers, beach getaways and quite a number of winery tours.

For our lovely physiotherapist Kim McCall, it’ll be a double celebration as she returns to her native Scotland for Christmas with her family and to marry her partner.

We hope to have a few titbits about the day and some wedding pictures in our first newsletter of 2023. Kim doesn’t know this yet.

“I am very much looking forward to a cold Christmas again,” she says.

“I have never gotten used to 40 degrees on Christmas day!”

Hand therapist Emmeline Fooks is crossing the border to sunny Adelaide for a beach holiday, relaxing with family and hitting the State’s famous wineries. Who wouldn’t!?

Our newest recruit and one of our youngest, therapist Lucy Barrett, is returning to WA to be with her family. She says she has plenty of beach days and wine tours booked in.

Physiotherapist Rose Alibazi, whose family are all in Iran, is planning to spend Christmas with friends. She’s looking forward to a warm break on the beach.

“If we are lucky with Melbourne's weather”, she says. You said it, Rose.

It’s going to be an emotional Christmas for Jaime Do, our occupational therapist and tennis tragic, who will be reuniting with his brother from Korea.

“I have not seen him in 4 years!” he says.

“We will head down to the beaches on the surf coast of Victoria and soak up some sunshine.”

MHT’s other physiotherapist, Dane Johnson, will be a following family tradition and heading to his parent's home in rural NSW.

“Every year my parents host Christmas for me and my siblings in my hometown in rural NSW, complete with the very competitive Johnson table tennis tournament,” he explains.

“I'll make the six-hour drive on Christmas Eve and spend a few days there by the pool before coming back to Melbourne to alternate between beach days and music festivals until the new year.”

Good luck in the tournament Dane. We’ll bring you the results (and perhaps a picture) in next February’s newsletter. Dane doesn’t know this either.

For the holiday period, Terri Stanley-Clarke will return to New Zealand for the first time in TEN YEARS.

The popular physiotherapist will spend Christmas Day with the cousins of her partner Dan and then will fly to New Zealand to spend time with her parents and friends and celebrate the 2nd birthday of her son. Perfect.

And finally, Hayley Field, our fellow Olympian and sporting injury specialist is heading into the holiday season doing what she loves.

“Over the holidays the Field family are venturing overseas ... well over the Strait… to Tasmania,” she said.

“We're exploring the east coast for a week then heading out for a three-night, four-day hike along the beautiful Three Capes.

“For some post-hike relaxation, we're beach bound to Merimbula for the last week of January before returning to Melbourne to get started with year 8, grade 6 and grade 3 for 2023!”

Merry Christmas from all of us at MHT and we hope you have a happy, safe and fun-filled holiday season.

Fast Five with Jen Mathias

It’s the final Fast Five of the year and there was no way we were going to let our Director and Senior Therapist Jen Mathias sneak off for her much-needed Christmas sojourn without first throwing her the Fast Five microphone.

Take it away, Jen.

What football team do you support and why?

I am surrounded by Collingwood supporters but much to my family’s horror, I don’t follow the footy. This is often a bit awkward when we treat AFL players and I ask them when they are playing next!

What are you reading at the moment?

I love autobiographies, but generally, I read one page and then fall asleep! It takes me about a year to get through a novel from start to finish. At the moment, I am reading Celeste Barbers Challenge Accepted.

What is your guilty streaming pleasure?

I love Border Security and Highway Patrol. I clearly have secret ambitions to be in law enforcement!

What do you do to relax?

I love tennis and can’t get enough of it! I am yet to challenge Jaime who is half my age and probably twice as capable as me!! But it’s coming, Jaime.

What was your first job?

My first job during university was as an activity coordinator at a Dementia Unit. I love old people!

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