OT Toolkit Tips: Hand Function

by Cheryl Hall on August 1st, 2016

HandA show of hands – who takes their hands for granted?

Yet, without strong, steady and agile hands most ADL’s are compromised.  With 27 bones, 29 joints and 120+ ligaments in each hand, patients count on us help their hands function as well as possible.  Whether the patient is experiencing pain, incoordination or a compromised grip, and no matter what condition including arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s or a fracture, the OT Toolkit will reinforce your therapy and help your patient regain maximum functionality.

The OT Toolkit includes Exercise Handouts, Educational Handouts and Treatment Guides that address the hand including:

  • Fine Motor Activities
  • Hand Strengthening Putty Exercises
  • Hand Stretching and Active ROM
  • Median Nerve Gliding Exercises
  • Tendon Gliding Exercises
  • Joint Protection
  • Superficial Heat
  • Superficial Cold
  • Edema Control of the Arm
  • Handwriting
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • De Quervain’s Syndrome
  • Distal Radius Fracture
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Here’s a sample of the Hand Strengthening Putty Exercises that are included in the OT Toolkit.


Hand Strengthening Putty Exercises


Perform the checked exercises _____ time(s) per day, _____ days a week
Repeat _____ times
Perform these exercises with   right   left   both   hands (circle one)

Finger Flexion

Shape the putty into a ball. Squeeze the putty with your whole hand.

Thumb Flexion

Shape the putty into a ball. Hold the putty in your closed hand. Press your thumb into the putty.

Lateral or Key Pinch

Shape the putty into a ball. Pinch the putty between your thumb and the side of your index finger.

Lumbrical Pinch

Shape the putty into a ball. Hold your fingers straight and your knuckles bent. Squeeze the putty between your fingers
and thumb.

Finger Extension

Flatten the putty into a pancake. Place your fingertips together on the putty and spread the putty outward.

Finger Abduction

Flatten the putty into a pancake. Spread the putty apart using two fingers at a time.

Finger Adduction

Reshape the putty into a sausage. Squeeze the putty between the insides of your fingers.

Finger Tip Pinch

Reshape the putty into a sausage. Pinch the putty between your thumb and each of fingers individually.
  • About Me

    Cheryl Hall
    Occupational Therapist
    Maryland, United States

    Welcome to a site devoted to sharing experience, knowledge and resources to make your job of being a great therapist a lot easier.

    I have been an occupational therapist for more than 30 years. I graduated from San Jose State University with degrees in Occupational Therapy, Gerontology, and Early Child Development. My passion is working with adults and children in home health but I have also worked in rehab, sub-acute rehab, hand therapy, transitional living for TBI, and hospital-based outpatient settings.

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