Examining wound management in hand therapy within the South African context

Lezane Esterhuizen, Pragashnie Govender, Deshini Naidoo


Background: Internationally, it is within occupational therapists’ scope of practice to provide interventions for the prevention of wounds, amelioration of wounds and to address occupational dysfunction resulting from wounds. In South Africa, however, the role of occupational therapy in wound management in hand therapy is unclear.

Aim: This study aimed to describe current wound management practices and views of occupational therapists on their perceived role and preparedness for providing wound management to hand injured patients in South Africa.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was administered with a sample of 106 participants via non-probability convenience sampling. Frequencies and percentages are presented for quantitative data analysed with descriptive statistics. Open-ended responses were analysed via inductive thematic analysis.

Results: Findings indicated a high prevalence of wounds in patients with hand injuries. Occupational therapists in South Africa have reported experiencing a high demand for involvement in wound management interventions. The identified role of occupational therapists includes providing interventions for the amelioration of wounds and addressing occupational dysfunction resulting from wounds, amongst others.

Conclusion: Improved guidance on the role and scope of occupational therapy in wound management is required. This is a need within the South African context due to the high prevalence of wounds in populations of hand injured patients that occupational therapists serve.


Key words: wound management, hand therapy, occupational therapy, International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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