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.
Alecia Vaughn is an Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist who joined Tulsa Bone & Joint Associates in January 2021. Our hand team is continually growing, and Alecia is helping us meet the ongoing need to provide excellent patient care through therapy services.
Alecia grew up in Sand Springs, Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She attended occupational therapy school at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. She received the Rebecca I. Estes scholastic achievement award for graduating #1 in her class. Before coming to Tulsa Bone & Joint, Alecia worked in Dallas, TX in private practice for two hand surgeons for 3.5 years.
Alecia and her husband, Bryan Vaughn, moved to Tulsa to be close to her family. They enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or going on long walks down Riverside with their dog, Brodie. Alecia enjoys exercising, staying active, eating Mexican food, and traveling. Hand therapy is her passion. She loves that she has the opportunity to help people every day and get them back to doing the things that they love.
We’re so glad you’re here, Alecia!
By Molly Cook, OTR/L, CHT
Osteoarthritis at the first carpometacarpal joint, or base of the thumb, can cause pain with use of the thumb. When the cartilage wears away from overuse or with time, the bones that create the joint at the base of the thumb can rub and cause pain. The amount of force put through to the base of the thumb is multiplied greatly when pinching or gripping with the thumb.
What can you do to reduce the pain at the base of the thumb?
- Use heat to reduce pain
- Maintain good range of motion
- “Work smarter, not harder”
-Use other parts of your arm to lift or carry objects when possible, which will reduce the use of the thumb, lessening the wear and tear as well as the pain
-Use tools and equipment to better utilize the larger joints of the upper extremity, reducing the force required from the thumb
-Possible tools/equipment include: rubber grippers to open jars, automatic can openers, gel ink pens, any many more.
What do we do in therapy to help reduce pain at the base of the thumb?
- Teach you how to prevent flare-ups and how to best decrease pain during a flare-up
- Fit you with custom-fit orthosis – helps to provide support and better positions the thumb during use of the hand
- Teach you home exercises- stretch tissues that become tightened and strengthen muscles that become weakened with osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb
If you would like to schedule a hand therapy appointment in Tulsa or Owasso, give us a call at 918-392-1552.
Megan Burkdoll was recently named Vice President of the Oklahoma Occupational Therapy Association (OKOTA).
Megan is one of our occupational therapists working in the hand therapy department at our Tulsa campus.
She has been serving our patients at Tulsa Bone and Joint for two years. In addition to treating patients on campus, she has been actively involved in the Oklahoma Occupational Therapy Association (OKOTA) and has served as a voting member of the executive board for the past four years. Practitioners across the state have recently elected her to serve in the role of Vice President of the state association. OKOTA addresses the interests and concerns of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants who serve in our communities throughout the state. OKOTA is involved in a variety of areas including, but not limited to legislative advocacy, policy changes, networking, and continuing education to ensure practitioners are able to provide excellent services to patients in all settings. As the Vice President, Megan will serve as a voting member of the executive board for a two-year term. She will oversee the strategic plan and leadership development for the organization, while also serving as a liaison between board members and committee members. Oklahoma Occupational Therapy Association is in affiliation with the national organization, known as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
Join us in congratulating Megan in her new role with OKOTA!
OKOTA Purpose Statement: “The purpose of OKOTA is to promote and improve the practice, study, research, and dissemination of knowledge of occupational therapy in the state of Oklahoma.”
The January Therapist of the Month is Megan Burkdoll, OT. Megan completed a Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of Oklahoma. She is also certified to perform Functional Capacity Evaluations. She is currently studying for the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) board examination (good luck, Megan!). Additionally, she is a board member for the Oklahoma Occupational Therapy Association (OKOTA).
Megan is a Tulsa-area native. She was born and raised in Broken Arrow and attended Bishop Kelley High School.
Megan says her favorite part about being an OT is getting to help patients return to the activities that bring meaning to their lives. “Being an occupational therapist has provided me with the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of hobbies, careers, and roles that I may not otherwise get to experience.”
Megan is a newlywed – she and her husband were married in June 2019. Their 1-year-old puppy, Tripp, keeps them busy.
Congratulations, Megan! Thanks for taking such great care of Tulsa Bone & Joint occupational therapy patients!