Therapy putty might sound like it belongs in a kindergarten classroom, but the truth is, it's a secret weapon when it comes to occupational therapy, hand rehabilitation, and arthritic pain relief. Comprised of a synthetic dough-like material, therapy putty is malleable, colorful, and available in a variety of resistances. People suffering from arthritis to those with autism or who are recovering from hand surgery can all benefit from the rewards therapy putty has to offer.
Strengthens Hands and Fingers
When it comes to aging, loss of muscle mass and bone density aren't the only things seniors need to worry about. Often diminished dexterity and reduced hand strength can be one of the most impactful changes of getting older as it greatly affects day to day living, from tasks like getting dressed and brushing teeth, to activities like exercising and playing with the grandkids.
Therapy putty plays a unique role in re-strengthening the forearm muscles that help control hand movement as well as the tendons in the hand. A 2016 study of patients with Parkinson's disease found that just one 15-minute session of hand exercises using therapeutic putty resulted in significantly improved manual dexterity as well as increases in grip and pinch strength.
Exercises Fine Motor Skills
In addition to fortifying hand and forearm strength, therapy putty can also be a useful tool in improving fine motor skills. Loss of cognitive and motor skills are hallmark indicators of conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which often afflict older adults. Exercising fine motor skills (small muscles that control small movements) and honing that coordination and hand-eye synchronization they require may help defend against these types of diseases or at least slow their progression.
Therapy putty exercises are simple yet fun and can increase the challenge of dexterity depending on the putty's own density (resistance levels). Simply therapy putty challenges include squeezing, rolling, and turning the ball of therapy putty into a donut shape to stretch out with your fingers.
Provides Stress Relief
Similar to how a stress ball you squeeze might help provide temporary peace of mind, therapy putty can be a great stress reliever at work, home, you name it! More versatile and well, fun, therapy putty can be stretched, squeezed, kneaded, bounced, and more. A productive way to take your mind off bothersome worries, and to help yourself focus, therapy putty is similar to coloring or knitting and can be a focal point while you try and work through a problem you need to solve at your job, for example.
For older adults with dementia or other cognitive decline, disorientation, frustration, and confusion can often disrupt a normal day and make it hard to go about a routine. Therapy putty may be a piece of equipment that helps relieve feelings of stress and anxiety and gives you or your loved one something fun to do that benefits their hands and mind as well.
Aids Arthritis Pain
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that notoriously affects the joints of the hands (and feet), making everything from typing to picking up a fork painful and difficult. The range of therapy putties, from soft to hard, can work out arthritic hands in such a way as to improve range of motion of the joints as well as bolster hand strength to offset pain and weakness brought on by the condition.
A 2007 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy found that an intensive hand exercise program involving therapeutic dough in part was shown to significantly increase grip strength and reduce pain levels in patients with RA (compared to a control group) too. Arthritis can affect people young and old – therapy putty offers generous health benefits that are enjoyable for patients of all ages.
When it comes to stocking up on exercise equipment that rewards you both physically and mentally, don't forget simple things like therapy putty. For people young and old it can be a major player in both mental wellness and stress and pain relief.