News and Updates

Hand Therapy In Rarotonga

Rarotonga is an easy, warm and welcoming place to relax and is a comfortable four hour flight from Auckland.  Sue Sewell has visited Rarotonga now on three occasions… partly to chill out, but also to continue cementing the hand therapy relationship between our clinic and the physiotherapy clinic on the mainland.

In early December 2015 Sue was holidaying in Rarotonga for five days and also spent some time sharing her years of hand therapy expertise and introducing the local physios to the amazing range of hand therapy products that we are able to access in New Zealand.


After arriving at the Physiotherapy Dept. on the first morning with a 20 kg suitcase of products Sue was a little surprised to hear she had a list of six patients to review!

The therapist’s main questions were:

“Are we on the right track with our therapy?”

“How do we progress therapy?”

“Are there any splints, supports, techniques that could help progress our patients?”

That morning Sue managed to use at least one product from each of our suppliers to help a number of patients.  That said, she didn’t really have time to explain the other uses for the products, so decided to spend another morning at the hospital whilst her husband was running around the island in 27 degrees heat training for an Ultra Marathon.  Sue was then able to explain more fully how to use the materials and how best to apply them to the type of injuries seen by the local physios.

One of the Rarotongan therapists donated her own fry pan to soften thermoplastics and Jennie Shearer from Merivale Hand Clinic donated her no longer used heat gun to help bond materials and velcro.  Another two patients were splinted that morning.

The two therapists in Rarotonga, like New Zealand hand therapists, are eager to learn about any splints and supports that would assist their patients return to work and independence.

Sue was impressed with their knowledge and skills and the resourceful and inventive use of ‘home-made ’supports and home exercise programmes.  The therapists have no hospital budget for Hand Therapy products and the only way they can use heat is via hot towels.  The material of choice to provide resistance for hand patients is sand (and there’s a lot of sand on Rarotonga!).

In Rarotonga there is no financial support for the injured patient when off work, so injured workers need to return to work as soon as possible and often do so earlier than advised.  This means that at times patients cannot attend follow up appointments, possibly to the detriment of their overall progress. This is where the splints and materials donated will make a huge difference to the hand injured Rarotongan population.

The Merivale Hand Clinic would like to thank our suppliers for their generous donations and hope that they will continue to support this wonderful group of islands with a population of 16000 people. Any donations of materials are always welcome and if anyone wants to join Sue in Rarotonga in 2016, please let us know!

Thanks to: Allied Medical, Bell’s Pharmacy, Merivale Hand Clinic, Orthocare, Therapy Specialties, USL, Whiteley Allcare, WS Medical

Filed under Hand Therapy \ Staff