A DIY hand pressure device for clinicians working in oncology care

This week the online training course for testing and training in low-tension compression has been launched. It's a short course, but an important course. Therapists will be shown how to make their own low-cost hand pressure testing device and then be guided in how to get the best use of the device in their manual therapy practice.

The device acts in two ways for the therapist and the patient. The first way is a measure of hand compression force. Measuring the degree of force used on patients can offer therapists some data about the load they are applying to their body in a single treatment session and then over the day.

If therapists can reduce the load on their hands, wrists, and shoulders, then the workday must become easier and hopefully, the risk of injuries can be reduced. A review of the research showed that manual therapists with 4 years of experience reported a 27 % incidence of injuries associated with their work. Fifty-six percent of therapists with a 30 + year history experienced injuries ( read more here Cornwell et al 2021). 80% of the injuries were in the arm!

The second way that a compression testing device can help both the therapist and the patient is by providing biofeedback to set compression levels. How this happens is the trainee has a set (low-tension) range and they repeat pressing at this level - using the digital readout to guide their exact pressure. This practice builds muscle memory. Prof Dolmage, a Canadian university massage trainer, reported on this training practice with his students in the 1980's "It's surprising how quickly students can learn to provide certain pressures - that could be replicated even when the student was blinded to the pressure readout."

How this helps the patient is simple. Students and new therapists tend to provide more pressure than is needed in their manual therapy practice. I know that when I used to be engrossed with talking while treating- I too found I was overpressing the patient. So if the therapist has a more reliable and lower hand pressure behavior, then the patient's body will feel the benefit. It will be a kinder pressure by the therapist.

For the therapists reading this and are nodding YES!,

then check out the training- it's online and a rather doable short course.

You may be wondering why I set the course at a really low cost- $27.27 (plus GST). It's because you need to add in the material cost for your DIY compression device. I want to reduce any financial barriers to completing the course. I want more therapists to take action on their manual therapy compression force.

There's more. STEAK KNIVES! - NOT

There is a win win win happening if you submit your blinded test results from your low compression training and report on the method you chose for low tension training (there are two to choose from). I get to collate the data and then present this at a later date.

For the competitive learners, you will get to see how you compare with other health professionals in achieving pressure reliability while blinded to the readout.

Feeling competitive? It took me 3 weeks to achieve reliability in my force behaviors, when not peeking!

A successful blinded result will be recording hand pressure at the device within the compression range 4 out of 5 times and doing this in the three selected low-tension ranges. I set this pressure range based on what I use in my breast cancer rehab practice for treating stiffness at the skin, the superficial, and then the deep layers of the body.

Who's ready to join me in the challenge?

PS I'm listing this training on foundation96's website. They will have over 1000 oncology service providers listed on their site- not all are manual therapists. Let's see if we can kickstart an international movement in pressure testing and training for manual therapy skills.

Be the first to take action: check out the training- it's online

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