Here at ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, we understand that when it comes to deciding the best course of action for your musculoskeletal injury or condition, there are many options available. However, based on our own experience within the clinic and the evidence found in research studies, we firmly believe that physical and occupational therapy is the best possible choice you can make. To help you better understand the advantages of the treatments we provide, our physical and occupational therapists do our best to bring you examples of some of the most important recent studies that highlight the many benefits of our services.
This month, we bring you the details of a recent study that compares two different types of occupational/physical therapy treatments for a broken wrist in older patients.
The radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm, and the end of this bone closest to the wrist is called the distal radius. Distal radius fracture is the technical term for a broken wrist, which is one of the most common injuries that can occur. These types of injuries are especially common in individuals over the age of 60, where they are the second most common type of fracture behind hip fractures.
Occupational/physical therapy is always necessary after the cast is removed
Treatment for a broken wrist typically consists of a physician realigning the broken bone and then putting the patient in a wrist cast. After the cast is removed, patients are usually instructed to follow a course of occupational/physical therapy. This can either be accomplished with a supervised program within an occupational/physical therapy clinic or with a home-exercise program designed by an occupational or physical therapist. Although both of these programs are commonly used, it’s not completely clear which is more effective for patients. For this reason, a powerful study called a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) was conducted that compared a supervised occupational/physical therapy program to a home-exercise program for older adults with a broken wrist.
For the study, 74 patients over 60 years old with a broken wrist were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: the supervised occupational/physical therapy or home-exercise group. Both treatments lasted six weeks, and patients in the supervised occupational/physical therapy group attended 12 sessions that consisted of various exercises to improve the flexibility of the hand and wrist hand, as well as manual treatments performed by the occupational/physical therapist. For the home-exercise program, an occupational/physical therapist instructed patients on how to perform a set of exercises for the hand and wrist at home, which lasted 20-30 minutes and were to be completed twice a day.
Results showed that overall, patients in both groups improved in all of the measurements taken. However, the participants who followed supervised occupational/physical therapy experienced significantly greater improvements in their wrist function. They also reported less pain and better wrist flexibility compared to the group that followed a home-exercise program. These improvements were noticed immediately after treatment, as well as six months later, which shows that they last in the long term.
Our Springfield occupational/physical therapy treatment programs contain similar components
These findings suggest that a supervised occupational/physical therapy program will lead to better outcomes for individuals older than 60 who have a broken wrist. At ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, we see patients with broken wrists all the time, and we offer a supervised Springfield occupational therapy program to treat them that includes many of the same components used here. So if you’re dealing with a wrist injury or any other painful condition, give us a call at 973-379-7006 to schedule an appointment and find out how we can help you improve today.
To read the summary (abstract) of this featured study, click here.