Hand Helpers: Living Life to the Fullest

Occu­pa­tion­al Tools to Max­i­mize Your Qual­i­ty of Life

Occu­pa­tions are not nec­es­sar­i­ly a paid job but can be con­sid­ered the dai­ly tasks we like to spend time doing. They are dif­fer­ent for every­one and often evolve over one’s life span. Some exam­ples of occu­pa­tions include golf, cro­chet­ing, bin­go, typ­ing, dress­ing and bathing. 

The hand is essen­tial to our occu­pa­tion­al day-to-day func­tions. With­out the use of our hands, basic activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing can become chal­leng­ing. The table below out­lines the impact of los­ing a sin­gle dig­it, in the hand or arm, on one’s over­all abil­i­ties. For exam­ple, los­ing or injur­ing a thumb results in almost 40% func­tion­al loss of the hand. It is clear how dis­ease, dis­abil­i­ty, injury or the aging process can com­pro­mise life sig­nif­i­cant­ly; los­ing this inde­pen­dence can cause addi­tion­al hard­ships and increase costs of care.

Hand Per­cent­age Loss

If you lose your

Total upper extrem­i­ty loss

Total bod­i­ly loss

Ring or small

9 – 10%


Index or mid­dle finger 

18 – 20%



36 – 40%


Whole arm



There are many cir­cum­stances that can lead to mobil­i­ty hand loss, direct­ly affect­ing people’s occu­pa­tion of any age, including: 

  • Aging: Arthri­tis, pain, con­trac­ture (per­ma­nent tight­en­ing of tissue)
  • Dis­ease: Can­cer, dia­betes, stroke
  • Phys­i­cal or devel­op­men­tal delays
  • Phys­i­cal defects

For­tu­nate­ly, occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­py is a valu­able resource to help patients live life to the fullest, regard­less of age, health or addi­tion­al cir­cum­stances. The Amer­i­can Occu­pa­tion­al Ther­a­py Asso­ci­a­tion states, Occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­py max­i­mizes health, well-being and qual­i­ty of life for all peo­ple, pop­u­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ties through effec­tive solu­tions that facil­i­ta­tion par­tic­i­pa­tion in dai­ly living.” 

Occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists’ job is to eval­u­ate and lis­ten to patients’ needs, iden­ti­fy what they want to be able to do and why they are not able to do it. This strat­e­gy includes the usage of hand helpers”, oth­er­wise known as adap­tive equip­ment, that can help main­tain occu­pa­tion­al iden­ti­ty and independence.

Adap­tive Equip­ment Examples




Hand pain/​Contractures

Ortho­sis devices are used to reduce pain and swelling caused by injury or disease.

Eat­ing and Oral Hygiene

Weight­ed uten­sils help reduce tremors and weigh down a user’s hand to make eat­ing and brush­ing teeth eas­i­er to manage. 

Dress­ing and Bathing

Sock aides, grab­bers, long-han­dled shoe­horns, long-han­dled sponges and but­ton hooks reduce the need to bend, twist and use affect­ed fine motor skills.


Com­fort Bot­tom Wiper” hold­ers and raised toi­let seats assist those with mobil­i­ty lim­i­ta­tions, pain and/​or reduced strength and balance.

Com­put­er and Ergonomics 

An ergonom­ic mouse and key­board reduce stress on your ten­dons and joints, alle­vi­at­ing pain and injury.

Hand Sta­bil­i­ty

Easy-to-hold uni­ver­sal cuffs reduce the impact of hand tremors. 

Pho­tos by Unknown Author licensed under CC BY-SA.

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing a loss of hand func­tion, you may ben­e­fit from an occu­pa­tion­al eval­u­a­tion. At DuPage Med­ical Group (DMG), our occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists will part­ner with you to deter­mine the cause of any poten­tial issues and cre­ate a per­son­al­ized treat­ment plan, that may include adap­tive devices, to enable you to retain your inde­pen­dence and qual­i­ty of life.

Click here to learn more about occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­py or call 630−967−2000 to sched­ule an appoint­ment today.

1Capek, K. D., Hugh­es, B. D., & War­den, G. D. (2018). 63 — Func­tion­al seque­lae and dis­abil­i­ty assess­ment. In D. N. Hern­don (Ed.), Total Burn Care (Fifth Edi­tion) (pp. 673 – 678.e1). Elsevier.

Health Topics:

  • As an occupational therapist as well as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT), I enjoy treating patients depending on 'What Matters to Them,' rather than what is the matter with them. Currently, pursuing clinical doctorate studies to improve the quality of evidence based care I provide. Regardless of diagnosis and extent of injuries, all treatment is value and quality based. My approach is rooted in patient satisfaction, as well as the lowest cost. Occupation based therapy has one goal, returning patients to their prior occupations and the things they enjoy doing. Every patient is a part of a larger population, and as a result, patient education, injury prevention and overall health are integral to the care of my patients.