Next stage of the healing journey

Outrigger on a contemporary Hawaiian sailing canoe

Outrigger on a contemporary Hawaiian sailing canoe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Patrick Stewart as Locutus, the assimilated Je...

Patrick Stewart as Locutus, the assimilated Jean-Luc Picard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the sixth week since I had hand surgery and it’s a transitional week in my rehab process.

For the first six weeks I’ve been using a working splint, also called an outrigger, on my operative arm.

In nautical terms, an outrigger is a part of a boat’s rigging which is rigid and extends beyond the side or gunwale of a boat and is used to stabilize the main hull. Like its nautical counterpart, my outrigger splint was a rigid rigging that extended above my forearm and was used to support my MCP joints. It consisted of a custom made splint that was molded to the shape of my hand and forearm. The outrigger contraption was attached on top of the splint. It had a rigid metal frame that ran parallel to the row of my MCP joints. Four lines that resembled fishing lines ran through this frame – one line for each finger (the thumb was excluded). The short end of each line is connected to a small loop of suede into which I’d insert each finger. The long end of each line was attached to a spring which was in turn attached with velcro to the splint body. I haven’t decided whether it looked more like a bionic arm or a Borg implant.

Wearing the outrigger splint

Wearing the outrigger splint

Dorsal view of outrigger splint

Dorsal view of outrigger splint

In the resting position, the lines kept my fingers in an extended position. This helped to attain the position I eventually want my fingers to attain as a result of the surgery.

In nautical terminology we have words like port and starboard. In medical terminology we have words like flexion and extension. Flexion refers to the movement made by bending the fingers down as if making a fist (joint angle decreases). Extension refers to the movement by extending the fingers to the open hand position (joint angle increases). One position is useful if one has to greet a friend, the other if one has to punch an enemy. Two important life skills to have.

The exercises I did for the first six weeks were to flex my hand against the tension in the strings as they expanded, then let the springs as they compressed pull my fingers back into the extended position.

At six weeks I am no longer using the outrigger and I’ve handed it in (pun just slipped out there). I still have a resting splint (night splint) that I’m using but I’ll be tapering off its use. I have a new set of hand exercises to do for which I don’t use a splint. I’m on a new leg (that slipped out too) of this healing journey.

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8 Responses to Next stage of the healing journey

  1. I hope you’re not typing with a chop stick clamped beween your teeth to replace your mending hand…. Awesome contraption, it looks like something off a Sci-Fi film. Glad to see that your sense of humour is still afoot 😉

    • orestgtd says:

      “afoot” – good one!

      No, I am not typing with a chopstick, neither clamped between my teeth nor otherwise. I’ve been working on computers that I know my way around a QWERTY keyboard really well even though I’ve never taken typing lessons. So I’m use the “hunt and peck” method with my right index finger and thumb, but without the “hunt”. More like an accelerated peck method.

      And the Sticky Keys setting is such a blessing! I no longer have to play twister with my right hand to hold down the shift key, or other modifier keys.

  2. cherylmoore says:

    Glad your recovery is going well 😀

  3. Jaye's Brain says:

    Nice post and photo. I never have it together enough to take photos in the hospital. Looks more bionic to me, but don’t leave out the borg just yet!

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