The hand is a complex upper extremity organ through which we sense, create and fashion our world. A disproportionately large part of the brain controls hand function giving it an immense ability to express consciousness. Hand gestures are very useful in non-verbal communication and are an important part of religious and spiritual practices.
The hand is designed to perform rugged tasks (gross motor) such as carrying heavy objects, and yet able to perform fine tasks (fine motor) such as writing with a pen. Everyday our hands are called to perform an unimaginable combination of sensual, fine and gross motor actions. Imagine shaving, brushing teeth, or combing hair without our hands.
In language, the substitution of ‘help’ for ‘hand’, as in “Dick give Heather a hand in moving the furniture” helps illustrate the importance of the hands. Our hands are one of our most important helpers.
The desired outcome is not achieved in all the hands encounters with the physical universe. The majority of hand injury results from blunt trauma (50%) and sharp objects (25%). Lacerations (cuts), contusions (bruises), and fractures are the commonest injuries and are a result of inappropriate or accidental handling of hard and/or sharp objects. Many employers have manuals on the prevention of hand injury which accounts for about 27% of work place injuries.
It is very important to remain conscious of the position and relationship of the hands to your physical environment. Protective gear should be worn whenever objects that can harm the hands are being manipulated, especially during sports and recreational activity. Hand injury should be attended to in the Emergency Room(ER).
There are numerous ways to strengthen and/or relax the hands depending on one’s condition. People with weak hand muscles may need exercises that strengthen the muscles , while individuals such as rock climbers may need more muscle and tendon relaxation exercises.
Simply shaking the dangling upper limb, while standing, in a ‘trembling’ motion a few minutes daily may be ample exercise for the healthy hand. It is a way to ‘free’ the hands so it can sense, create and fashion best.
1. Frank R Wilson M.D. The Hand: How it’s uses shapes the brain, language, and human culture. 1998. New York: Pantheon Books.
2. Metman LV , Bellevich JS , Jones SM , Barber MD , Streletz LJ . Topographic mapping of human motor cortex with transcranial magnetic stimulation: Homunculus revisited. Brain Topogr. 1993 Fall;6(1):13-9.
3. Pam Vecella and Scott J. Zashin, M.D. What actions help preserve manual dexterity?about.com Arthritis and Joint Conditions. http://arthritis.about.com/od/handandfingers/f/manualdexterity.htm
4. Denise Mann and Louise Chang, M.D. Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis . WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/guide/hand-exercises-rheumatoid-arthritis
5. Dr. George Best. www.BestHealthandWellnessinfo.com