The hand and wrist commonly incur injuries within the sporting environments we see today. It comes as no surprise that collision-type sports, including rugby league and union, boxing and martial arts, are regular referral patterns with hand injuries occurred from sports.
There are many situations where the hand and wrist may be susceptible to injury, i.e. in defensive situations, such as holding a ball, or perhaps in offensive situations, when trying to tackle an opponent. The hand and wrist could also be injured by a direct blow from an opponent, a racquet or a ball, in cricket perhaps.
The hand and wrist are a most complex area and transmit a very powerful elbow, shoulder and arm movements, to be executed with precision.
Therefore any dysfunction to the hand and wrist may have serious consequences for the whole of the upper limb function.
When dealing with hand and wrist injuries in sport, it is important to fully assess and evaluate the injury involved. The particular sporting requirements of the individual player must be understood as well as clear and accurate guidance must be given as to the likely outcome of the injury and expected return to play.
It is extremely important that an accurate assessment of the player's position and specific functional requirements are fully evaluated. This will help the treating clinician to gain an insight into the likely return to function, the likely timings of his/her return and the consequence of a suboptimal outcome.
The management of each individual hand and wrist sporting injury should be tailored to meet that individual's requirements, for an optimal outcome.
Goals of hand and wrist sports injury management
- A quick and detailed assessment of the injury.
- A thorough assessment of the player's functional requirements.
- Appropriate investigations.
- Definitive treatment.
- Programmed sport and player specific rehabilitation to return to optimal function.
- Continued surveillance until complete recovery is achieved.
Sports specific rehabilitation
Sport Specific Rehabilitation is an integral part of a successful recovery. This may be used as a primary treatment for a particular hand and wrist problem or may follow surgical intervention. It is important there is a step-by-step, clear goal-orientated rehabilitation programme designed in conjunction with the treating surgeon and the therapist involved in the rehabilitation.
With all round support, the injured player will understand this step-by-step method, and will achieve full function by achieving the targeted goals along the recovery pathway.