Holding on to one’s independence

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 8/29/2019, 4:21 p.m.
If you want to experience how difficult it is to get through a day without the use of the thumb ...

If you want to experience how difficult it is to get through a day without the use of the thumb and index finger, just immobilize your thumb with a wooden splint. You can’t do anything! It is impossible to write, to open a door, to hold an eating utensil, button up a shirt, put shoes on and tie them, or even to peel an apple. With an unusable thumb and index finger, one would be totally dependent upon another person for assistance in daily living.

There are many persons who have become incapacitated due to the loss of the use of a hand. This affliction may have resulted from an accident, crippling arthritis, or even a devastating stroke. Physical rehabilitation is capable of doing wonders in restoring a disabled hand; however, even this therapy may fail due to physical limitations.

If the thumb and index finger cannot be made to perform as a workable unit due to physical restraints, objects that have to be used for independent living can be made larger in order to accommodate the defect. For example, there are writing pens that have been made larger in size and can be used efficiently to write letters.

Many kitchen utensils, such as knives and forks can be made with larger handles. This can easily be done by placing the handle of the utensil between two pieces of wood and wrapping tape around it. There are scissors that have been developed that have wide handles and close very easily. To accommodate a restricted hand, doorknobs can be made larger, simply by wrapping tape around them. There are gadgets that can be placed on a phone to make it easier to lift the receiver.

Everyone wants to be self-sufficient and live an independent life, however, disease may alter the picture. There are many gadgets on the market that have been developed to make life a little easier for a person with a handicapped hand, and websites like www.activehands.com and www.healthproductsforyou.com can be good resources. If you know a person that has this handicap, lend a hand, if you can.