3 Household Objects for 9 different Hand Therapy Activities

Do you struggle to develop new treatment ideas or even ideas for your virtual hand therapy visits?  Thinking of unique ways to use objects your clients have in their homes can be half the battle. This blog post presents 3 different ways to use 3 everyday items. 


Item number 1: A tennis ball (hand therapy ball).

Tracing the white lines

Shift the tennis ball (or any other therapy ball for hand) with the fingertips while tracing the line of the ball with the tip of the thumb.  Then repeat in reverse. This is a great option for our CMC osteoarthritis and a good fit for anyone needing to work on that thumb mobility.

hand therapy ball


Balancing on a racket

Balancing a tennis ball on a racket addresses wrist stability and mobility, and upper extremity strengthening and coordination.  If your client doesn’t have a racket handy, they could even use a small frying pan.  Have your client ‘write their name’ with the pattern of the therapy hand ball or even try spelling out the ABCs. 

Grip strengthening
This is typically used for pediatrics but can be fun for adults too. Cut a slit into one of the tennis balls and give it to your client. Otherwise, see if a loved one can help them cut a slit.  Have your client squeeze the ball with their affected hand to open the mouth (slit) of the tennis ball.  Using their other hand, have them place pom-poms, coins, or beads into the therapy ball for hands.  

Item number 2: A bag of coins

Translate coins into a piggy bank
This activity emphasizes prehension, functional grasp patterns, isometric IP flexion, in-hand manipulation, opposition, palm to finger translation, and more!  No piggy bank = no problem. Cut a hole in the top of an old peanut butter jar or even cut slits into a piece of paper for DIY alternatives. 

hand therapy ball

Hide coins in rice. 

Hide coins in a Tupperware container of rice, place a towel on top of the container, and challenge your client to place the affected hand in and search for the coins. This activity will challenge tactile discrimination skills, desensitize digits, hand strength and mobility, and functional grasp. 


Stacking

Stacking coins is an easy activity that targets an individual’s dexterity, as it requires prehension, opposition, and mobility. To grade this activity, prompt your client to hold multiple coins in the palm of their hand and then stack a single coin, one at a time; this additional challenge will address in-hand manipulation and palm-to-finger translation skills!

hand therapy ball

Item number 3: Scraps of Paper

Paper ‘Crumpling’

Using appropriately sized pieces of paper, have your client ‘crumple’ 5 pieces with their involved hand, making them into paper balls. This is for improving in-hand manipulation skill and to improve digital range of motion.

hand therapy ball

‘Flicking’ 

Practice ‘flicking’ the paper balls (see above); this will encourage isolated digit flexion and extension.

Throwing small paper balls 

Practice throwing small balls into a small container.  This will encourage range of motion in dart throwers plane and encourage grasp and release in a tenodesis fashion—also many other great benefits for eye-hand coordination and proprioception

2 Comments

  1. Rosenda rivera on June 21, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    simple exercises that go far.

  2. April Hedrick on February 12, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Awesome, thank you for sharing

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