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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


UYS, Michelle Elizabeth; BUCHANAN, Helen  and  VAN NIEKERK, Lana. Return to Work for People with Hand Injuries in South Africa: Occupational Therapy Strategies. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2020, vol.50, n.2, pp.52-61. ISSN 2310-3833.

INTRODUCTION: The socio-economic burden of a hand injury in South Africa is substantial, particularly for manual labourers whose job tasks are physically demanding and require hand function. Barriers to participation in work occur on an economic, social and political level, as well as on a therapist and client-specific levelAIM: This study aimed to identify the strategies and barriers encountered by occupational therapists in work-related transitions after a serious hand injuryMETHODS: A descriptive cross-sectional design was utilised. A questionnaire was developed for the study through a rigorous development process that included piloting. The final instrument was disseminated as an online questionnaire to occupational therapists working within the field of return-to-work and hand injuries. As no data were available on the number of occupational therapists working within this field, convenience sampling was used with snowballing as a strategy to increase the number of possible respondents. Data were exported into Microsoft Excel and descriptive analyses were conductedRESULTS: Forty three occupational therapists completed the questionnaire. Respondents mostly focused on treating components of function (100%), addressing activities of daily living (97.67%) and issuing home programmes (97.67%) as direct intervention strategies to facilitate work-related transitions. One of the least used strategies was issuing assistive devices for work (30.23%). The least used work-specific strategies included conducting worksite visits, observing clients (or proxies) completing work tasks in the workplace and implementing work trials. Financial support and compensation were viewed as both an asset and a barrierCONCLUSION: Without knowledge about the representability of the study sample, the results of this study cannot be generalised. However, the therapists who responded to the questionnaire were offering a range of strategies to address work-related transitions for people with serious hand injuries, despite the numerous barriers that exist

Keywords : Upper extremity; Vocational Rehabilitation; Work-related transitions.

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