Meet Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist Jill Jakub
Earlier in her career, Jill Jakub can remember working with another therapist who provided specialized care for patients with upper extremity injuries and traumas.
That person was a certified hand therapist.
“I thought she was able to do some really cool things and saw some impressive recoveries,” said Jakub, who is an occupational therapist at Columbus Community Hospital’s Rehabilitative Services.
Her interest was sparked and, two years ago, Jakub became a certified hand therapist too.
“Our hands are amazing tools. I think people oftentimes take them for granted. You don’t realize how important they are until you have an injury or can’t use them as you once did,” she said.
Jakub, who is also a certified lymphedema therapist, has been an occupational therapist since 2005 and has been employed at CCH for the past 10 years. She has always worked with patients needing rehabilitation of their hands, wrists and elbows. Having her hand therapist certification gives her additional knowledge to better treat that area of the body.
“The credential as a certified hand therapist identifies that I have advanced knowledge of upper extremity treatment. I think a lot of surgeons seek that out depending on the type of injuries that their patients may have,” Jakub said.
To attain the certification, a therapist is required to have 4,000 hours or more of direct practice in hand therapy. They also must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.
Becoming a certified hand therapist is the highest level of achievement someone could have for that specialized focus, said Doug Janssen, rehabilitation services director at CCH.
“The patient will get to experience the highest level of care they can for their hand and hand function because it is such a complexly designed part of our body. They get to really experience a clinician who knows all the ins and outs of how to manage and treat it best. That’s a huge positive,” Janssen said.
Certified hand therapists can treat a variety of injuries. Jakub said she has worked with patients who have arthritis, tendon injuries, fractures, nerve injuries, chronic conditions and amputations to the upper extremity.
When a patient comes to Jakub, an initial evaluation is done to identify areas that need to be addressed, whether that is range of motion, strength, coordination or function.
“Then I come up with exercise programs or maybe we would do some splinting or some other treatments to help them reach their goals and improve their function,” she said.
As both an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, Jakub said she takes a more comprehensive approach to the recovery process. The course of action can depend on the goal of the patient, whether they want to get back to work or to be able to do tasks at home.
“Some patient’s goal is to change a diaper and others have a goal of return to work on an assembly line where they are doing a lot of lifting,” Jakub said.
Recovering from any injury is challenging physically, but it can also have a mental impact on a patient. That is especially true of trauma to hands.
“We get so much information from our hands.
When you can’t use them as you normally would, people can struggle with that,” Jakub said.
She said there is an emotional component that can go along with a hand injury.
“Maybe they’ve hand an amputation or significant injury. Think about it. When you meet someone, you shake their hand. Or there’s the act of holding a baby or holding the hand of someone you love. Sometimes an injury to the upper extremity can affect people differently because of that,” Jakub said.
Jakub enjoys helping these patients recover and reach their goals.
“I have the luxury of having a job where I get to know my patients. I get to know about their lives and their families. Usually when we are done, we are friends. I also just love how intricate and complex our hands are because it is something we take for granted. It is something that when I was studying for my exam that I really began to appreciate,” she said.
To learn more about CCH’s Rehabilitative Services, visit our Rehabilitative Services page or call 402-562-3333.