Hand Therapy Week: Muhammad Ali

As much of the world spends this week celebrating the Muhammad Ali’s extraordinary life – his memorial service and funeral are Friday – we were fascinated to find a connection to Hand Therapy Week, which is recognized this week.

Ali, of course, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. Among the many types of therapy that he required was hand therapy.

In a 2010 interview with Ali’s wife, Lonnie, (republished here by USA Today), Lonnie was asked: “What therapies does he have?”

She responded: “Five days he has physical therapy — three for balance, motion and flexibility, and two devoted to strength and muscle tone. He also goes for hand therapy. Parkinson’s patients write very small. The only place Muhammad has arthritis is in his fingers.”

What is hand therapy? According to the American Society of Hand Therapists, “hand therapy is the art and science of evaluating and treating injuries and conditions of the upper extremity (shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand). Hand therapy uses a number of therapeutic interventions to help return a person to their highest level of function. It evolved from the need for a specialist with the knowledge and experience required to manage the challenging recovery of complex hand and upper extremity injuries.