When a Lake Charles man nearly had his hand cut off, it would take a team of specialists to reattach it and rebuild it. It was after surgery, though, that this man faced the biggest challenge: learning to use the hand again.
The dynamic duo of patient, Jim Brown, and Lake Charles Memorial Hospital occupational therapist/certified hand specialist, Susan Cart, has come a long way since the first encounter. "My hand was just hanging and every bone was broken," said Brown, "it was completely exposed, it was just hanging by a little skin."
Brown was working in the yard with his son, pulling down a wire, when it unexpectedly got caught on the riding lawn mower. That force ripped his hand back - and almost off. "I was afraid," said Brown, "when I was trying to get to the hospital, I was trying to hold it to make sure that it would stay on."
Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brett Cascio with Orthopedic Specialists at LCMH saved Brown's hand and a hand specialist in New Orleans helped rebuild the tissues, tendons and ligaments. But these surgeons were not sure how much Brown would be able to use it.
That is where Cart came in at LCMH's Team Therapy and Rehabilitation, with a blank sheet of expectations for this new rehab patient. "He had nerve injury, blood supply injury, he had flexor tendons and extensor tendons," said Cart, "so, you can't pull to hard in one direction, because it will then ruin the repair in the other."
Cart wanted Brown to fully regain use of his hand, but it was something that could not be learned solely at therapy sessions four days a week.
Brown was given homework and worked diligently in recovery. "It was hard," he said, "it was painful and Susan would push me as far as I could go and it made me realize you just have to go through the pain to get the gain."
After getting the swelling under control, Cart worked finger by finger and joint by joint. "After we'd get the movement back, then we'd move into strengthening type purposes and reeducation of all the muscles," she said.
That process took almost nine months, but paid off for Brown, who has complete use of his hand today. "I use my hand now and I never even think that I've had the accident," he said, "days go by and I use my hand. I just have great use of it."
Brown's occupational therapy is now complete. He said Cart was especially helpful to him, even meeting him at the hospital on her days off since he was also undergoing chemotherapy. She said therapists will go the extra mile when their patients are willing to as well.