Last year, before I embarked on my teaching journey, I stocked up on a few items for my classroom. Some Theraputty, Koosh balls, therapy balls and other things designed to build fine motor dexterity. There was a small tub on my desk with these items for students to use whenever they wanted, and my purpose for this was actually built on three things I knew about kids on the autism spectrum: They generally have poor fine motor skills, giving them an activity that doesn't require active thinking as a distractor actually helps them focus on other senses, especially aural stimuli, and because in my various experiences in physical therapy for my wrists and hands, these were the types of activities that didn't seem like work and would then get a lot of buy in for using them.
The assumptions were spot on, in that I had many students using these items every time they came to class. I actually built on the initial purchase, because some things were much more popular than expected, particularly the Theraputty. I bought two different resistance levels-and it was well loved. When I left the job, I gave my replacement some of the items, but I kept a few of the balls and a tub of the Theraputty for myself, because there was easily $100 invested in it and I probably keep some on hand if the need arises for future wrist therapy came about.
I've noted some of the issues in my hands post-operation, but some of what I'd noticed was left unsaid-not even to Ed. I didn't think it was that big a deal that three fingers cramp up when I type. Yesterday, though, I was chatting with my global friends about figuring out a song and decided to go to the piano to see about recording a bit of it to show them how much I'd worked out.
You'd never know that I spent several years in piano lessons and doing daily Hanon exercises to build individual finger strength, for fingers 2 and 3 (ring and middle) on my left hand no longer have the ability to strike a key with any force anymore. I think I'm glad for the fact that the song I worked is right hand heavy (but the part played centers around C3, and thus, really should be played by the left hand.)
For my neurologist visit, I created a personal medical history and included what I've observed of the hand that indicates either an RSD spread or Chiari changes (it could have gone either way, honestly.) Now, with the finger weakness and tendency to curl in tightly at rest, I'm thinking this is RSD.
Once I realized it, I also thought of the physical therapy catalogs I have to buy those manipulatives, and will probably be looking at what else I can do. For now, though, I will have the tub of Theraputty and therapy balls sitting here on my desk.