Meet OT Kathy Bukaty: Hand Therapy Treatments That Make You Feel Like You’re at the Beach!

Meet Kathy Bukaty, an Occupational Therapist in our Olathe clinic, as well as our Kansas City, Kansas location. She went to school at SUNY Buffalo State, in Buffalo, New York, and moved to Kansas City in 1982. She became a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) in 1999 and has been practicing ever since.

Meet OT Kathy Bukaty

Meet OT/CHT Kathy Bukaty in our Olathe clinic. She shares what makes hand therapy so specialized and how a Fluidotherapy machine can make you feel like you're at the beach. #ARCPTplus #OTMonth

Posted by ARC Physical Therapy+ on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

While she now works at ARC Physical Therapy+, an outpatient-based physical therapy group, Kathy has practiced OT in a variety of settings. She began her career in an inpatient, acute care hospital, and then moved to inpatient rehabilitation units, helping patients recovering from strokes, head and spinal injuries. She’s done home health and nursing homes as well.

About 25 years ago, she had the opportunity to work at an outpatient hand clinic.

“I really liked it, and it felt like the right place for me at the time.” After getting the required years of experience and passing the test, she became a Certified Hand Therapist.

The hand is a very small and intricate part of the body. With 27 bones and 123 ligaments in the hands and wrist, this is different than some of the other, larger joints in the body. It has so many small pieces in a small area. When you have an injury, or a surgery, if you get a millimeter of too much scar tissue, you can have adhesions and stiffness. On the other hand, a millimeter too little of scar tissue can result in a failed surgery.

The heart of hand therapy is knowing how much to move and how much force to use within therapy, understanding the anatomy as well as the surgery outcomes, and how to partner with the doctor to ensure a successful recovery.

Kathy loves working at ARC Physical Therapy+, “I like how we put a big emphasis on a patient’s work tasks—not only making sure they have adequate grip strength after a surgery, but making sure they can do the specific tasks required of their job. We start with the basics of post-op rehabilitation, but we don’t stop there. We have to make sure they’re ready to go back 100% to do their job. I enjoy being able to see the big picture and functional approach.”

The roots of occupational therapy use occupation, or activity to regain strength. As an OT, especially in a modern world with lots of wrist and elbow injuries tied to working at a computer all day, a big part of Kathy’s job is looking at what factors led to an injury, and teaching patients to take better care of themselves.

For example, Kathy explained, “When you are sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, typing, it’s kind of like your fingers are running a marathon. Doing that workweek after workweek, you’re getting really sore, just like you would with excessive exercise. We talk about taking breaks, doing some routine stretches to get them out of that position. We also train them to do counter stretches with their hand and wrist, and simple things like drinking water.”

“For another patient, maybe one who has a job involving heavy lifting, we emphasize using good body mechanics, stretching and being aware of how you’re using your body. Some people just need help slowing down.”

We utilize a variety of modalities in our therapy at ARC Physical Therapy+. One that Kathy uses with her patients is called Fluidotherapy. This machine blows hot air (at 115 degrees) in a container filled with ground up corn cobs. This cellulose feels like sand, and as the hot air blows it around, it brushes up against the patient’s hand. Rather than using a hot pack, which immobilizes the hand, Fluidotherapy allows someone to bend and straighten their hand, alleviating stiffness. According to Kathy, “most people love this therapy. It feels like you’re on the beach.”

To try Fluidotherapy for yourself, contact Kathy at the Olathe clinic at (913) 254-0568 or our Kansas City, Kansas clinic at (913) 378-0778.

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