Hand SurgeryAn orthopedist examines a patient's hand.

Occupational therapists play a key role with patients recovering from hand surgery. Specialists, such as hand surgeons or plastic surgeons, often will refer their patients to occupational therapy for fabrication and fitting of customized splints for the upper extremities. Occupational therapists teach patients how to control swelling following surgery and provide instruction in home exercise programs to ensure patients return to independent functioning. If necessary, occupational therapists teach self-care techniques, such as one-handed techniques to compensate for the inability to use an extremity. They also help plan post-hospital care if further occupational therapy is required.

Joint Replacement and Reconstruction Rehabilitation

Occupational therapists are key members of the orthopedic treatment team for patients undergoing joint replacement and/or joint reconstruction rehabilitation. Following surgery, occupational therapists provide patients with training in activities of daily living such as how to independently put pants and socks on while avoiding certain positions.

Spinal Surgery

Spine surgeons refer patients for occupational therapy following spinal surgery such as back surgery. The occupational therapist's primary role is to teach patients the proper way to bathe and dress themselves. Some patients may have pain or weakness after surgery and need to be instructed in the use of adaptive equipment. The occupational therapist also teaches patients how to put on and take off custom back braces.