Occupational Therapy -- Protecting Your Joints during Everyday Activities

Self Care Tasks

  • Holding Toothbrush, Combs, Razors

      Place items parallel to the knuckles.
      This method may require you to change hands to comb, brush or shave both sides comfortably.
      Build up handles if you can not get your fingers straight.
      Use an electric toothbrush or razor.

  • Using Toothpaste

      Place tube slightly over edge of counter or sink. Hold brush under tube opening and press paste out with palm.
      Avoid squeezing with finger tips.

  • Wringing Out Wash Cloths

      Press cloth between palms or between sink and palm.
      Never wring out with a clenched fist.

  • Dressing

      Replace buttons with velcro, or use a buttonhook.
      Wear shoes with Velcro closures.
      Use a long handled shoe horn.
      Build up zipperheads and attach rings.
      Sew pull loops to the top of socks.
      Use a back scratcher, kitchen tongs or coat hanger to extend reach.

  • Bathing

      Wash with a bath mitt and long handled sponge.
      Sit while bathing.
      Built up faucet handles so they can be controlled with the palm.
      Install grab bars in the tub/shower.

  • Tasks that involve turning

      Door knobs, lamp switches, TV knobs
      Turn clockwise with the right hand
      Turn counter-clockwise with the left hand

  • Eating

      Build up utensils with foam
      Hold knife in the palm, with the blade extending from the pinky side
      Place rubber bands around cups and glasses for easier grasp

Kitchen and Homemaking Activities

  • Opening Drawers Cabinets Refrigerators

      Slide your fingers through handles so the force used in opening is spread through the palm.
      On knob-type openings keep fingers straight and spread the force through several fingers.
      Try to avoid opening cabinets and drawers with your fingertips.
      Attach a loop of ribbon to slip over the hand then pull open using strength in wrist or forearm
  • Closing Drawers, Cabinets, Refrigerators

      Close cabinets using the palm of the hand with fingers straight.
      Or close with little finger against the drawer.
      Never use your fingertips or thumb and index finger to close cabinets

  • Removing Cans, Boxes From Shelves

      Pull object from shelf with palm of one hand and slide into palm of other hand
      If this is not possible, pick object off shelf with both hands.
      Place objects back onto shelf using both hands.
      Store heavy items on center cabinet shelves, light objects on high or low shelves

  • Lifting Pans

      Keep fingers straight as possible
      Support pan under handle and on the side
      Using both hands to distribute the weight and minimize stress on the joints

  • Opening cans, jars

      Alternating hands to open and close jars prevents stress in the direction of the little finger
      Use the palm of your right hand to open jars, use left hand to close jars
      Non slip type material provides a better contact surface between the jar and hand or the jar and table

  • Cutting And Chopping

      Position knives parallel to knuckles and keep fingers as straight as possible.
      Pull the knife thru the meat and towards the body
      For chopping stabilize front of knife with palm of one hands hold handle with other hand and chop using an up-down motion.

  • Stirring And Mixing

      Hold spoon keeping fingers as straight as possible.
      Stir in the direction of the thumb
      Build up handles of utensils if you are unable to keep your fingers straight

  • Faucets

      Turn faucets on and off using the palm, keep fingers straight

  • Picking Up And Washing Dishes

      Pick up plates, bowls at the sides keeping fingers straight
      Use palm pressure to hold and lift items.
      When washing plates, counters or tables keep fingers straight over cloth or sponges, wash in direction of thumb.

  • Carrying Groceries

      Carry groceries and other bundles with your forearms.
      Wrists and fingers should be free and relaxed
      A typical hand grip may be necessary when lifting packages from a car trunk or floor but shift the package into your forearms as quickly as possible

  • Bed Making

      Make one side of the bed before moving on to the other side.
      Smooth sheets with the little finger side of hand and brush out and away from the body

  • Dusting

      Press on dust cloth with fingers straight
      Dust in direction of thumb

  • Vacuuming, Sweeping

      Cradle the broom, dust mop or vacuum handle with the left hand
      Lightly grasp the handle with the right hand. Build up the handle at this point if necessary.
      Use shoulder and elbow movements to do the work.

  • Cleaning Sinks, Tubs

      Keep fingers straight and press down on rag or sponges
      Scrub in direction of thumb
      A long handled sponge is recommended for cleaning the tub.
      To wring water out of sponge press between your palm and the sink

  • Ironing

      Hold the handle lightly or build up the handle to prevent making a tight fist
      Slide the iron and avoid picking it up and down
      Sit to iron if possible
      Buy clothes that don't need ironing

  • Laundry

      Remove clothes from the dryer with a reacher
      Use clothespins that push on instead of the kind you have to pinch
Leisure Time Activities
  • Gardening

      Use lightweight long-handled garden tools.
      Raised garden boxes eliminate the need to bend or kneel.
      Use a sprinkler system rather than carrying a water can or holding a hose.
      Time limit 30-60 minutes.

  • Hiking/Walking

      Wear sturdy shoes.
      Avoid long hikes, hilly areas and rough terrain.
      Use a moderate paces rest, when necessary, stop before fatigued
      Time limit as tolerated

  • Bicycling

      Use lightweight, multi-speed bike
      Try to maintain good posture
      Grip the handles as loosely as possible
      Time limit as tolerated.

  • Golf

      Use a motorized golf cart when possible
      Push your golf bag or get a caddy to carry them
      Do not carry your clubs on your shoulder.
      Play the number of holes within walking tolerance,
      Time limit as tolerated.

  • Fishing

      Use a lightweight rod
      Change position often from sitting to standing
      Prop pole rather than holding it for a long time.
      Time limit as tolerated.

  • Swimming

      Excellent exercise
      Swim leisurely
      Time limit as tolerated.

  • Reading

      Use a book stand for heavier books
      Lay newspapers/magazines on a table.
      Avoid-holding in your hand for long periods.
      Time limit as tolerated

  • Writing

      Build up pens/pencils
      Flair Tip pens require less pressure to make a mark
      Sit at desk/table in a comfortable chair.
      Writing requires a sustained grip and is not recommended for long periods.
      Time limit 10-15 minutes.

  • Painting/Sketching

      Sit to work.
      Build up handles of brushes, pencils.
      Avoid long periods of holding
      Time limit -- 15-30 minutes

  • Needlework

      Needlework maintains fingers in a fixed position for a prolonged period and is not recommended
      Build up handles or use large needles whenever possible
      Time limit -- 10-15 minutes.

  • Sewing

      Use electric machine and electric scissors
      Sit on a sturdy chair with back support.,
      Try to cut down on the amount and period of time spent in pinning.
      Time limit -- 1 hour

  • Music

      Piano playing puts stress on the fingers and is not recommended
      Organ requires lighter touch than piano
      Guitar not recommended (due to strumming towards little finger and use of a stressful pinch in order to play the chord)
      Listening to music is recommended
      Time limit for playing instruments -- 15 minutes

  • Cards

      Use a good chair with back support.
      A card holder is recommended to avoid sustained holding of the cards
      Time limit -- as tolerated.

  • Movie/TV

      Use good sitting posture
      Walk around during intermission/commercials
      Time limit -- several hours.

  • Home Entertaining

      Avoid last minute rush by planning or making a schedule ahead
      If serving a meal consider a buffet with a one-dish meal such as a casserole.
      Pot-Luck can save you energy in preparation and clean-up
      Use disposable plates, glasses, napkins.
A portion of the information shared from: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/5309/arth7.html.

For further information please contact the NY AgrAbility Project, Cornell Agricultural Health and Safety Program, 777 Warren Road, Ithaca New York 14850 or by phone 1-877-257-9777. The New York AgrAbility Project can not guarantee the effectiveness of any suggestions, solutions or recommendations. The New York AgrAbility Project is administered by Cornell University through funding provided under the United States Department of Agriculture CSREES project number 2002-41590-01372. http://calagrability.ucdavis.edu/

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More