Thursday, February 4, 2010

Therapy After Trigger Thumb Surgery

Painted clothespin puppets, with felt details (glued with Tacky glue) have disguised the thumb exercise involved in this play.

I wrote about how my daughter's doctor told me that in most cases children didn't need therapy after trigger thumb surgery. I had my doubts since I know that she hasn't been able to use scissors properly, even before the surgery. So, I did some of my own digging for information on how I can help her strengthen those muscles that she hasn't really ever used since her thumbs have been in a locked position for at least a couple of years... perhaps since she was born. I figure I can do some play therapy with her and if that doesn't work, then we will go to an occupational therapist.

In the three weeks since my daughter has had her cast removed, we have seen improvement. For the first couple of days with her casts off, my daughter continued to use her fingers to play, leaving her thumbs out of the game (just as she did when she had her casts on). My husband and I explained to my daughter that it was necessary to use her thumbs to help them continue to heal. She was receptive to this. By the week's end she was holding crayons correctly and starting to pull apart duplo legos.

Here's a link to some info I found on helping a child learn to use scissors. Now, with my daughter, I'm not sure if the challenges she's faced with trigger thumb are the "trigger" (heheh) for her difficulty with using scissors, or if it is only slightly related. (She doesn't seem to have strong enough hands to open scissors.) At any rate, I have decided to do some intense therapy in this area with her. I do preschool with her at home, so we just use a bit of preschool time to practice exercising those muscles in her thumbs and forearms. The picture above is of our latest activity: clothespin puppets.

Here are some other things we have done:
  • Ripping paper. (Funny that I have to teach my daughter to do this when it has come so naturally for the others!)
  • Picking up cotton balls with salad tongs and dropping them in a bowl. (Opening the tongs was difficult for her. )
  • Using a bulb syringe. I have started letting my daughter play with a bulb syringe while in the bath tub. She can't do this with one hand, but with two she can. Hopefully she'll get to the point where she can do it with one hand.
  • Play OPERATION. Bought the board game OPERATION for some fine motor skill practice, but my daughter is afraid of the sounds the game makes.

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