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Avera Medical Minute: Avera therapy program specializes in hand injuries

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 11:02 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Can you imagine going through a normal day of life and not being able to use one of your hands?

It’s a reality for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons and it turns out there is specialized therapy to help those with hand injuries; get the use of their hand back.

A Minnesota woman has been on this journey since the end of March.

It was a typical Sunday night for Brittany Panka...”I grabbed my closest knife to cut up a chunk of frozen meat.” until it wasn’t.

“When I went to use it like a chisel my knife stayed and my hand went down the blade.”, said Panka.

Brittany had severely cut what’s called a Flexor Tendon and it meant she couldn’t move the pinky finger on her hand at all.

“I can see that I’ve done some damage.”, said Panka.

And that injury meant Brittany had to undergo surgery......kinda quickly....to repair what had been done. Within days, Brittany would cross paths with Andrea Ransom.

“With a flexor tendon injury, we begin therapy somewhere between day three and day five post surgery.”, said Ransom.

Andrea is an Occupational Therapist with Avera Health and her specialty is injuries between the elbow and the fingertips.

So what happened to Brittany fell into that category.

“You’re not able to use your hand for at least six weeks and I was like...wait....what?”, said Panka.

While she couldn’t use the hand in everyday life she did start on a plan for therapy; putting her damaged hand through the paces in ways that seem simple until you’ve sustained a serious injury.

“We are giving them home exercise programs which they have to do on an hourly basis for this injury because scar tissue is really our enemy.”, said Ransom.

And now, more than two months since the injury, Brittany Panka has made real progress. It’s not been without pain and she has had to be careful. doing too much too fast could cause the flexor tendon to break.

“I don’t want to go through this. I don’t want to go through this twice.”, said Panka.

Therapist Andrea Ransom says what lies ahead should be a full recovery.

“She’s been really dedicated to her home exercise program and that made her have a really good outcome. She can make a full fist.”, said Ransom.

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