By Alecia Vaughn, OTR/L, CHT, Occupational Therapist, Certified Hand Therapist
Mallet finger is a tear or rupture of the extensor tendon that straightens the very tip of each finger is a common injury seen in hand therapy. This injury is common in athletes when the finger is hit with a ball. It can also happen during simple daily activities, such as getting dressed or making the bed.
Has your hand ever slipped while trying to place the super tight sheet on your mattress? Sometimes mallet finger can happen during something as quick and familiar as that! What happens to the extensor tendon? When the tip of the finger is bent beyond its limit, the excess strain can damage this relatively delicate tendon. When you have this injury, you will notice that the finger droops down, and the tip of your finger is stuck in a bent position. It is unable to straighten unless helped by another hand.
The treatment for this is to be fitted for a custom splint that keeps the tip of your finger fully straight and even into slight hyperextension. The fingertip must stay straight 100% of the time for 6-8 weeks. If at any point it bends then your time in the splint will restart, even if gravity is the culprit.
It is important to seek out treatment and get into a custom splint as soon as possible, otherwise you may have to wear the splint for a longer period of time. Custom splinting is preferred over AlumaFoam prefabricated splints because the AlumaFoam does not provide adequate support to ensure proper healing. Although the splint may not completely resolve the bend in your finger, the splint significantly reduces the deformity allowing for greater functional use of your hand. Delaying treatment may result in a permanent droop in your finger.
We love our fireworks in Oklahoma! Hand surgeon Jessica Childe, DO, put together some helpful tips to ensure that you and all of your fingers have a safe and happy 4th!
All patients that are referred to Tulsa Bone & Joint Hand Therapy will initially have an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist. After the initial evaluation, the patient will set up their appointments and may notice they are scheduled with a COTA for some of their visits. Patients may not know or understand COTA’s role and may be hesitant to see them.
A COTA is a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant. They have attended college and receive an Associate degree in Applied Science. A COTA is also required to pass National Boards and carry a state medical license in order to treat patients. However, a COTA cannot work without being under supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L or OT).
Angela Averill is our only COTA here at Tulsa Bone & Joint. She has been in the hand therapy setting for 6 years. She is qualified to provide manual treatment to a patient’s affected body part (finger, wrist, elbow etc.), perform ASTYM, various modalities, and instruct the patient in exercises and activities that have been specified in the Plan of Care. Angela is in constant communication with the OTR about the patients treatment and progression. She follows the Care Plan established during the initial evaluation and will address any questions or concerns directly with OTR. Angela has shadowed our doctors to get a better understanding of the diagnoses treated here at Tulsa Bone & Joint, and she will occasionally assist in fabrication of splints.
Angela enjoys interacting with patients and being part of the expert team helping our patients reach their goals and return to prior level of function.
We here at Tulsa Bone & Joint are happy to have her as part of our Hand Therapy Team.
Tulsa Bone & Joint Associates is pleased to welcome Elizabeth Weldin, MD. Dr. Weldin is a hand surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow repairs, including pediatric hand conditions.
Dr. Weldin completed a fellowship in Hand Surgery and a residency in Orthopeaedic Surgery from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She earned a medical degree from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Weldin’s practice was previously located in Reno, Nev. at Reno Orthopedic Center.
Dr. Weldin’s clinic is located at the main Tulsa Bone & Joint campus at 4800 E. 109th E. Ave.
Dr. Weldin performs outpatient hand and upper extremity surgeries at Union Pines, the outpatient surgery center on the campus of Tulsa Bone & Joint at 4808 S. 109th E. Ave. She also has privileges at Ascension St. John and performs surgeries at Ascension St. John Main as well as Ascension St. John Broken Arrow.
Dr. Weldin is currently accepting new patients. She joins a team of two existing hand surgeons at Tulsa Bone & Joint, Dr. Jessica Childe and Dr. David Mokhtee, and Jeri Towsend, APRN-CNP.
Megan Burkdoll is another occupational therapist on our hand therapy team. Megan was born and raised in Broken Arrow. Megan is a graduate of Bishop Kelley High School – Go Comets! Megan received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has been specializing in treatment of the upper extremity for the past 4 years and is studying for her specialty certification. Megan joined the hand therapy team at Tulsa Bone & Joint in 2018.
Megan is also the Vice President of the Oklahoma Occupational Therapy Association (OKOTA). Serving as a voting member of the OKOTA executive board for the past 5 years, she has been involved with areas such as legislative advocacy, policy change, continuing education, development, and strategic planning. OKOTA is affiliated with the national organization, known as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
Megan and her husband, Alex, have two dogs who keep them on their toes. She enjoys spending any opportunity she can with her family and friends.
Megan wrote a helpful blog post for those who transitioned to a home office during COVID, which you can read here.
Thanks for all you do to help our patients move their lives forward, Megan! #OTMonth