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Therapy exercises after a hand and wrist burn injury

It is important to exercise your joints after a burn injury. If the skin over or near a joint has been damaged by a burn, could become tight and eventually contract. A contracture is a lack of movement at the joint and this will happen if it is not exercised regularly leading to the joint becoming stiff and limiting your normal activities. It is always better to prevent a joint contracture from occurring than it is to treat it.

If a contracture develops, more surgery may be needed.

What should I do?

During your treatment you will have done exercises with your therapist.

Information:

It is very important that you continue your exercises at home.

These should be done little and often throughout the day to prevent stiffness. Using your arms for normal daily activities such as getting dressed and feeding yourself will help maintain movement and reduce stiffness. We would advise you to carry on with hobbies as discussed with your therapist as these will help to improve movement.

When your burn wound has healed, as advised, use an unperfumed cream to moisturise and massage the area 2 to 3 times a day to keep your skin supple which will help with your stretches at home. It is very important that the old cream is washed off before applying more.

Exercises

Exercise 1

Bend your affected fingers into a fist and then straighten your fingers.

Repeat times.

Photograph of person's hand up and with fingers straight   Photograph of person's hand up in a fist with their fingers bent and their thumb pointing out

Exercise 2

Bend all the fingers down at the knuckles. Using the other hand bend each finger and press downwards, keeping the rest of the finger straight.

Photograph of person's hand up and with fingers straight   Photograph of person using one hand to bend their affected hand over at the main knuckle, keeping the fingers straight

Hold this position for seconds.

Then straighten your finger. Repeat the exercise on all of your fingers.

Repeat times.

Exercise 3

Bend your affected finger at the middle joint. Use your other hand to increase the bend.

Photograph of person's hand up and with fingers straight   Photograph of person using one hand to bend their affected hand's first finger over so the finger tip is touching the base of their finger

Hold this position for seconds..

Then straighten your finger. Repeat the exercise on all of your affected fingers.

Repeat times.

Exercise 4

Using your other hand, bend the tip of your affected finger keeping the rest of your finger straight.

Photograph of person's hand up and with fingers straight   Photograph of person using one hand to bend their affected hand's finger over at the last knuckle, keeping the rest of the finger straight

Hold this position for seconds. Then straighten your finger. Repeat this exercise on all your affected fingers.

Repeat times.

Exercise 5

Bend all the joints of the affected fingers so that the tips tuck into the palm forming a fist. Using the other hand push the tip of each finger into the palm as far as it will go.

Photograph of person's hand up and with fingers straight   Photograph of person using one hand to bend their affected hand's fingers over to form a first, with the tips of their fingers touching the base of their fingers

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your finger.

Repeat times.Repeat this exercise on all your affected fingers.

Exercise 6

With your fingers straight, spread your affected fingers apart. Then use the other hand to separate the fingers further. Increase the stretch each time.

Photograph of person's hand up with all fingers straight up   Photograph of person using one hand to separate their other hand's middle and ring fingers

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your fingers.

Repeat times. Repeat this exercise between all your affected fingers.

Exercise 7

With your elbow resting on a table and your hand in the air, straighten your affected fingers as much as you can. Then, using the same finger on your other hand, bend your finger back until you feel a stretch.

Photograph of person's hand with fingers straight and with their first finger flexed going backwards   Photograph of person's hand with fingers straight and with their first finger flexed going backwards and their other hand pushing their finger back further

Hold this position for seconds.

Then relax your fingers. Repeat times.

Exercise 8

Place your affected hand on a table, resting on the outer edge of your little finger. Keeping your fingers straight move your thumb sideways away from your fingers as far as you can. Using the other hand pull the thumb to increase the stretch.

Photograph of person's hand resting on a table with their fingers straight and thumb outstretched to the side   Photograph of person's hand resting on a table with their fingers straight and thumb outstretched to the side and using their other hand to pull at their thumb

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your thumb.

Repeat times.

Exercise 9

Place your palm flat down on a table. Move your affected thumb sideways away from your fingers as far as you can. Using the other hand pull the thumb sideways increasing the stretch.

Photograph of person with their hand flat on a table with their thumb outstretched   Photograph of person with their hand flat on a table with their thumb outstretched, and using their other hand to pull on their thumb

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your thumb.

Repeat times.

Exercise 10 (optional)

Move the affected thumb to the tip of your index finger, then to each fingertip one by one. Slide your thumb down to the base of your little finger. On reaching the base of the little finger, use the other hand to push the thumb down further.

Photograph of person with their hand up touching their thumb to each of their finger tips   Photograph of person with their hand up touching their thumb to their little finger and then sliding it down to the base of their finger near to their palm

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your thumb.

Repeat times.

Exercise 11

Rest your forearm on a table with your hand over the edge. Bend your affected wrist down towards the floor. Then using your other hand gently push increasing the stretch.

Photograph of person with their hand straight, with their wrist resting on a table and their hand hanging off the end of it   Photograph of person with their hand straight, with their wrist resting on a table and their hand bent at the wrist going forward and their other hand gently pushing their wrist down

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your wrist.

Repeat times.

Exercise 12

Rest your forearm on a table with your hand over the edge. Bend your affected wrist backwards. Then using your other hand gently pull back increasing the stretch.

Photograph of person with their hand straight, with their wrist resting on a table and their hand hanging off the end of it   Photograph of person with their hand straight, with their wrist resting on a table and their hand bent at the wrist going backwards and their other hand gently pulling their wrist up

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your wrist.

Repeat times.

Exercise 13

Bend your affected elbow at your waist and turn your palm down so it faces the floor. Use your other hand to turn your palm further until you feel a stretch.

Photograph of person with their hand out in front of them, palm facing down   Photograph of person with their hand out in front of them, and using their other hand to turn their hand so their palm faces upwards and stretched

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your forearm.

Repeat times.

Exercise 14

Bend your affected elbow at your waist and turn your palm up so that it faces the ceiling. Use your other hand to turn your palm further until you feel a stretch.

Photograph of person with their hand out and their palm facing upwards   Photograph of person with their hand out and using their other hand to turn their hand so their palm is facing downwards and stretched

Hold this position for seconds. Then relax your forearm.

Exercise 15

Resting your forearms on the edge of a table with your hands over the edge. Clasp your hands together and move your wrists up.

Photograph of person with hands clasped on a surface pulling their thumbs up to bend the wrists up away from the ground

Hold this position for seconds.

Move your wrists down.

Photograph of person with hands clasped on a surface pulling their thumbs up to bend the wrists down towards the ground

Hold this position for seconds.

Return to the start position. Repeat times.

Exercise 16

Sitting at a table, put your palms together, with elbows resting on the table slide your elbows outwards to bring your forearms onto the table. Aim to get your forearms as close to the table as possible.

Photograph of person with their elbows on a surface with palms together with their wrists on the surface and their fingers pointing up

Push your palms together for seconds. Then return to the start position.

Repeat times.

Contact us

Sheffield Children’s Burns Therapy
Telephone: 0114 271 7148

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

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Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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