The Time I Broke My Mother’s Finger – and OT Fixed It
by: Kate LeFebvre OTR/L
A Community in Motion
It was spring of my junior year in high school, and I had the dubious pleasure of taking the SAT IIs; something I had all but forgotten existed until I recalled this story. Not yet having a driver’s license, I waited outside the school when I was done, pacing back and forth across the concrete until my mom arrived. At some point, it would seem I stepped in a sticky wad of fresh chewing gum. I climbed into the passenger’s seat unaware and assumed my typical (and I should note, not terribly safe in the car – don’t do this at home!) posture with my feet tucked up under me. I suppose it comes as no great surprise to mothers everywhere that I wasn't the one to clean up the resulting gooey mess on the minivan’s upholstery. In the process of scrubbing some unknown person’s used gum, Mum applied perhaps a bit too much elbow grease. The result was mallet finger, a tendon injury that prevents the last joint of the affected finger from fully straightening.
My mom went to see her primary care physician, who told her there was nothing to be done and her finger would never be straight again. Unsatisfied, she convinced him to write a referral to occupational therapy. Her OT, specializing in hand therapy, provided exercises to strengthen and repair the damaged tendon. With a combination of clinic visits and home exercises, my mother restored full range of motion to her finger. Now she not only has ten equally straight fingers, full function in both hands, and a story to tell about those darn careless kids, but she also had the opportunity to go back to her doctor and say “I told you so.” Sounds like an OT success story to me!