Thursday, April 23, 2009

Piedmont Fayette Hospital Patient Regains Full Use of Hands

April is Occupational Therapy Month

While out with her family at the local skating rink, Fayetteville resident Jennifer Smith, tripped over another skater and landed backwards on the edge of her palms. The result: bilateral fractures in both wrists, and shattered bones beneath her thumb and pinky. She was rushed to the emergency room at Piedmont Fayette Hospital (PFH). After X-rays, splints, surgery and a 2-day hospital stay, Smith was sent for occupational therapy.

“When I showed up for therapy at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, my hand was straight up and down, I could only move it a quarter of an inch at the very most,” said Smith. “I couldn’t tie my shoes or get dressed, let alone do my job.”

Smith underwent 6 weeks of therapy at PFH, with two sessions every week. She participated in flexion, extension and strength building exercises, which included lifting small weights, pushing and pulling objects, circular movements of the wrist to regain rotation, and massages.

“The occupational therapy program is designed to help our patients perform day-to-day tasks for themselves, whether that is at home, school, work or play,” said Lisa Caphe, an occupational therapist at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. “But more than boosting motor skills and improving mental acumen, we want them to know they can overcome their injuries or disabilities and lead normal lives.”

April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month and Piedmont Fayette Hospital is recognizing the hospital’s occupational therapy department for its efforts to help individuals, like Smith, lead fulfilling lives.

Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of patients such as Smith. The therapists help clients not only to improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function. The goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

“Lisa explained everything to my husband so he would know what to do after my sessions were over,” said Smith. “She suggested using things around the house for weights – like canned goods or a hammer to simulate the same exercises.”

With continued exercises at home, as suggested by her OT, Smith returned to work and has regained almost full mobility in her left wrist and hand and is 85-90 percent recovered in her right.

“You get so much more out of the therapy with a specialist than you can do it at home. Having someone there to tell you when you’re doing it right or wrong, and what exercises to do really helped,” said Smith. “It was a wonderful experience, -- without them I don’t think I’d be back where I am today.”

PFH Rehabilitation and Fitness Center offers cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab, diabetes education, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology. There are also specialty programs including pelvic pain and incontinence therapy, lymphedema therapy, wound care and ostomy management, joint replacement pre-op classes, and Healthy Heart Classes. The fitness center is open to the community and offers a full line of state of the art equipment. Physician referral is required for most rehabilitation services. For more information about PFH's occupational therapy department and other rehabilitation and fitness services, call 770-719-7290. To learn more about Piedmont Fayette Hospital, visit

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