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Posted by on Oct 4, 2016 in CRPS / RSD | 0 comments

Movie character claw? (04.10.2016)

Movie character claw? (04.10.2016)

My right hand is more or less frozen into a claw-like position, due to a rare disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or sometimes Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD, its old name). CRPS is mainly a neuro-inflammatory disease, but it can cause a number of other issues including joint stiffness and rigidity, reduced bone density, etc.

One of the ideas that my M&M physiotherapist suggested – to try to help me regain some use of my stiffened and almost rigid fingers – is something called a dynamic splint. (For more on this specific type of therapy, read M&M physiotherapy.) In my case, for my hand, it’s a kind of brace that uses elastic bands to exert force on each of the 4 fingers at the same time; to pull each of the finger joints into an extended (or open) position.

Unfortunately my physiotherapist couldn’t write me a prescription for this splint, but I was finally able to have the less-than-enthusiastic orthopedic surgeon who’s been treating me (or not, but that’s a whole other story that I’m just not ready to deal with yet) write a prescription for this on August 11th.

So on August 22nd I had an appointment with a technician specializing in orthotic and prosthetic devices at a local orthopedic supply shop. He noted details of my CRPS joint issues and took a number of measurements; finger lengths, distance between each joint on each finger, hand width at several specific places, etc. All in all, I was there for well over a half hour.

He explained that what my physiotherapist had suggested was a first for him, and possibly in the history of their orthotics and prosthetics shop – which opened in 1952! He told me that they’d seen dynamic splints for one, or sometimes two, fingers; but no one on their entire team could recall ever having made – or even heard of – this type of splint being made for all four fingers.

He had to pull out a few books of parts from different manufacturers, and even called one of them to confirm that they could build this dynamic splint; it was going to be custom-made at an orthotics manufacturer, as it wasn’t something that could be put together locally. Unfortunately this meant I’d have to wait for this new orthotic device, but I’d gotten used to waiting since the diagnosis of my disease had been missed for almost three months.

I got a call last week that my new dynamic splint was ready, but I couldn’t just go pick it up right away. I had to make an appointment for a fitting, so the technician could show me how to use it – to make sure that I didn’t end up damaging my hand rather than improving the situation. My appointment was yesterday, and it must have taken a good half hour for me to be able to get this thing onto my hand – it looks like some king of movie character “claw”!

And oh my gosh it hurts when I wear it! This is going to be interesting, as the technician suggested that I wear the dynamic splint – to start – for 20 minutes 2-4 times each day for the first week. After that I should increase to at least 30 minutes at a time, at least twice a day. He said I should aim for 4 times each day, for a total of 2 hours.

The goal after a month would be wear it for 30 minutes 10-12 times/day, for a total of 5 or 6 hours a day. But I can’t wear it when I’m sleeping or driving, or when I’m using the computer at work, so I’d have to wear this dynamic splint pretty much all the time when I’m not at work!. So maybe I’ll try wearing it at work, when I’m in meetings in which I don’t have to take notes…

I had an appointment with my physiotherapist right after I was fitted with the dynamic splint yesterday, and everyone at the clinic told me it looked like part of a superhero’s outfit. I put it on for a few minutes at lunch time today, at the office, and my colleagues all said that it looked like something out of a movie; so I took votes on which character it would suit best.

Photo: Sandra Woods

There were the possibilities that folks at my office came up with:

  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Freddy Krueger
  • Terminator
  • Wolverine

My favorite character won –> Wolverine!

So now when I wear this splint – and it REALLLY hurts to wear it – I’ll tell myself I’m channeling my inner Wolverine.
I sure hope that mantra helps with the pain that this dynamic splint causes!!! And, of course, I hope it helps get my hand back to a more functional state; that it’ll help me regain use of my right hand.

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