Sticks out like a Sore Thumb

Varn Lucas, 32, is an Oztag representative player who has had a number of injuries to her hands that have all been mismanaged by our health system.  Most recently, she dislocated her dominant right thumb, which disastrously became a “swan-neck” deformity after wearing an ill fitted orthoses. 

Immediately after the injury occurred playing Oztag, the thumb was correctly re-located and casted at Ryde Hospital Emergency.  However, a week later this was removed and replaced by an ill-fitted “off the shelf” orthoses applied by someone with little knowledge of Hand Injuries.  To make matters worse, at a subsequent visit to a “specialist” doctor, the orthoses was not checked and Varn was told to wear it for another 6 weeks.  Unfortunately, when it was finally removed, the damage had already been done and the thumb was stuck in a reverse “S” shape deformity.

It was at this time that Varn, very worried about her thumb, made contact with Clare Maple-Brown, an Accredited Hand Therapist as awarded by the Australian Hand Therapy Association, and began treatment with her at Bondi Junction Hand Therapy.  Custom made orthoses, exercises and education have helped Varn on the road to recovery and her thumb is now much more functional and the deformity has been reversed.  However, her recovery would have been much better if she had a custom made orthoses from a practitioner in Hand Therapy fitted immediately after the cast was removed.

The thumb is 40% of the function of the hand and very important in the most basic of activities such as eating and dressing.  The saying “sticks out like a sore thumb” stems from the inconvenience a thumb injury can be!

Oztag is renowned amongst those within the Hand Therapy industry to be especially susceptible to hand injuries due to the task of grabbing the “tag” from the opposing player.  This uses precision grip in a high speed situation, which despite efforts to change the design of the “tag” and other clothing, continues to cause hand injuries.

June 6-12th 2022 is Hand Therapy Week, and Varn wanted to share her story to help raise awareness of the importance of seeing a practitioner of Hand Therapy as soon as an injury occurs.  At least now she knows one for the next Oztag hand injury!  Your local Hand Therapy Practitioner can be found through the “Find a Therapist” tab at

CEO of the Australian Hand Therapy Association, Wendy Rowland said “it is important to consult a hand therapy practitioner as soon as an injury occurs. A hand therapy practitioner is a qualified physiotherapist or occupational therapist with expertise in the finger, hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.”

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