Together with therapists, patients were seen to determine if a hand orthotic would enhance functional hand use or prevent further deformities. I educated therapists on what I was seeing and what orthotic management had to offer. They watched me fabricate orthoses and then, with my help, learned and practiced each step until they could fabricate them independently.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2014
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Language was often a barrier, but fortunately for me there was usually at least one person who spoke and understood English reasonably well.
In addition to the fabrication workshop, we spent time in didactic teaching in the various types of low-temperature orthotics we fabricate as hand therapists and the conditions in which they are used in therapy and postoperative protocols.
On the last day of my visit, I was invited to meet with the staff from the country’s patient advocacy foundation, NORA. They are passionate in acquiring additional funding and resources for people in their country with rheumatic diseases. We talked, sharing common challenges and stories. I shared several lectures that I have utilized in the past for public educational forums.
It’s my hope that I’ll be given the opportunity to return, so I can plan and participate in a public educational forum to have an even greater impact on improving life for those with arthritis in Macedonia.
Carole Dodge, OT, CHT, graduated from Boston University in 1979 with her Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy and earned her credential as a certified hand therapist in 2007. She has been employed at the University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems in the Department of Physical Medicine since 1997, and currently has both clinical and managerial responsibilities for three outpatient hand therapy clinics. Her areas of specialty include rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, scleroderma, joint replacements and traumatic hand injuries.