So, as directed by my doctor, I went to see my friends — the occupational therapists at the Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation.
They fitted me with a custom splint molded to my finger (for $50) that despite my doctor’s recommendation that I wear the splint at night only, they want me to wear the splint 24-hours a day for the next week, which for me will be nine days because that’s the day I can get there again.
I am to remove this splint when I bathe, when I wash my hands, and five times a day to do physical therapy exercises.
The exercises are 10 reps of basic hand gestures: straightening the hand, lightly bending the top of the hand, and making a loose fist.
If the hand loses progress instead of gains it, then the cast will be reapplied.
In pondering this, I realize several opinions of mine that may be greater truths:
- Had I accepted my doctor’s solution of “cheaping out” and reusing my stinky cast as a splint, my recovery from this mallet finger would be more direct versus gradual. I believe gradual, supervised steps toward healing are better and I wonder if there are statistics about patients and the long-term success rates with these injuries with various treatments. How many patients would hear that insurance won’t cover it and end the conversation there without considering that the $50 might provide more than just a splint, but also guidance and expertise.
- Are my occupational therapists just over-cautious or it is a case (as I think it is) that the therapists see more of this injury and in the same manner than nurses often know more than doctors, do occupational therapists understand more about function than fancy specialized surgeons?