April Occupational Therapy Month

April Occupational Therapy Month Skills for the Job of Living April is National Occupational Therapy Month. The following is an article about a member of the Vermillion community who benefitted from occupational therapy services at Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospital.

During a Friday afternoon in August of 1998, Clayton Campbell was working in his shop using a nine-inch grinder/sander to complete some repairs. The job was progressing nicely until the grinder slipped for just a moment and lacerated Campbell's right forearm, near his wrist. Campbell acquired the assistance of a neighbor, Marty Gilbertson, to drive him to the emergency room at Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospital.

Dr. Chris Hugo was then called in to treat Campbell's injury. Dr. Hugo found that three flexor tendons (tendons which bend joints) were lacerated, along with the ulnar artery and nerve. Campbell said, "Dr. Hugo was very thorough; he spent several hours removing the particles from the grinding wheel from my wound so I wouldn't get an infection."

He added, "Dan Hensley, the anesthetist, was very helpful." Dr. Hugo was successful in reuniting the artery, nerve, and tendons and requested that occupational therapy assist in Campbell's plan of care.

An occupational therapist fabricated a splint for Campbell, which protected his injury, supported his hand/wrist, and allowed him to do specific hand exercises in the splint. Campbell was educated on specific exercises and on the care of the splint. He was seen regularly to adjust his exercise program for his hand, measure his progress, and adjust his splint as needed. After five to six weeks, his initial splint was discontinued and a second splint was fabricated which now worked to stretch his flexor tendons, which had been shortened while healing. The second splint involved an outrigger which pulled his hand/wrist into extension (bent back).

Therapy was then more aggressively addressing his range of motion (how far he could bend/straighten his joints), strengthening, coordination, scar healing, and sensory re-education due to the nerve injury.

Campbell was a model patient and faithfully completed his exercise program.

"Therapy was essential to recover. Lisa and Amy were the sergeants and the pushers who kept me going. They told me how to do the exercises and why I was doing them. I needed the use of my my hand for my occupation," said Campbell.

Campbell is the owner of Campbell's Farm Service and spends much of his time in a tractor, which necessitates the use of his right hand for the controls. Campbell received occupational therapy services for approximately four months, after which time he had made much progress in regaining the functional use of his right hand.

Three years after Campbell's injury, he has regained approximately 84 percent of the strength back in his right hand. He reports that, "One hundred percent of people don't know I was injured if they don't know me."

Hand therapy is just one area in which the occupational therapy staff at Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospital work with individuals to increase functional abilities, maximize independence with life's activities, and improve one's overall quality of life.

Please contact Amy Hertz or Lisa Dangler at 624-2611, ext. 334 for more information regarding occupational therapy.

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