Life is a now a little easier for Queenstown residents needing specialist hand and upper-limb rehabilitation. Sarah, one of our senior physios, has just completed her Hand and Upper Limb Specialist training at Auckland University of Technology.
The twelve month long post-graduate qualification will make her one of a very small number or associate hand specialists in the South Island, and the only one in Queenstown.
Despite Queenstowners reputation for injuring themselves when adrenalin sports go wrong, Sarah says she’s expecting to see the full gamut of hand and upper-limb ailments.
“Technically speaking I’ll be looking at any chronic, traumatic and congenital pathologies of the hands and upper limbs” She says, “In practice that’ll mean looking after arthritis suffers, rehabilitating surgical repairs… and yes probably a few people who’ve fallen off bikes and skis!”
Previously patients needing Sarah’s skills would have needed to travel to Wanaka or Alexandra to see a hand-specialist, a journey that’s not exactly practical with an arm in a plaster cast, and one that would preclude some people from certain surgeries.
In fact Sarah says “A few surgeons are reluctant to do joint replacements in Queenstown residents because there’s no one here to rehab them.”
Rather than being finished with studying now, this is just the beginning for her, “It’s a pretty fast changing profession,” she says. “Surgical techniques are always changing, as are our understanding of nerve and tendon pathology, so this qualification isn’t a one-off, we have to do a lot of continuing education to stay current.”