This 12- to 20-week program is targeted to those who need to develop competitive use of their non-dominant hand following an amputation, stroke, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or other injury to their dominant hand. It represents an innovative approach to restoring an individual’s employability and his/her ability to perform activities of daily living following an impairment of the dominant hand.
All clients are assessed biomechanically and monitored throughout the program by a certified kinesiologist. Refinements and enhancements to their programs from a physiological perspective are made on an ongoing basis as necessary. Every client’s initial level of functioning with the non-dominant hand is assessed in performing daily tasks and manuscript and cursive handwriting. Then a series of standardized tests is administered to establish a baseline for perceptual-motor functioning. These tests include:
Each program is developed and customized as necessary to meet the client’s needs and incorporates a wide range of activities.
The initial focus of the program is on gross-motor hand skills and stamina, while gradually introducing fine-motor work as more basic skills improve. Psychomotor skills such as range of motion, eye-hand coordination, dexterity, strength, and endurance are targeted. The program also incorporates a sequenced series of perceptual-motor exercises primarily consisting of pronation/supination, insertion, compression, scooping, spooning, and mechanical manipulation tasks, including those requiring instrument manoeuvering. The daily practice of these tasks equips clients with the techniques and confidence needed to undertake activities of daily living and succeed in the workplace.
Art therapy is included in the program and has proven to be extremely successful with our clientele. Its purpose is to further refine skills by allowing the participants to apply them while completing art activities such as sketching, painting, and modelling with clay. This creative approach also tends to help students elevate their moods, as many of them suffer secondarily from depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder related to their injuries.
The program’s handwriting component covers both manuscript and cursive writing and includes an orientation to proper pencil-gripping and paper-positioning methods. The goal is to improve writing skills by developing legibility and allowing for more controlled and fluid writing while reflecting improved proportion. Stamina for sustained writing is improved through daily transcription exercises.Writing sample before and after (3 months later):
(click sample to enlarge and view more)
Unimanual computer keyboarding lessons that include using a centred home row are also taught. Clients learn basic finger positioning and work towards the goal of increased speed and accuracy using the non-dominant hand. In addition, some computer skills training in MS Office applications is included as clients develop proficiency with the use of a computer mouse.