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Helping hands

Occupational therapist Janis Yeo coordinates exercises to restore full function to injured hands.

news-helpinghandsJanis Yeo
Age: 35
Occupation: Senior occupational therapist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
About her: She is the only certified hand therapist in Singapore. There are only 5,572 people worldwide who are certified by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission in the United States. She received the certification last year. She has more than five years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist. She has also received further training in rehabiliation of the hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

I specialise in managing injuries of the hands or upper part of the body because... I’m someone who loves to see results. The rehabilitation phase for the hands is shorter compared to that for the legs. Someone with a fractured hand may be able to clench his fist after two weeks of occupational therapy and lift a handbag six weeks after occupational therapy. But it may take up to two months before someone with a fractured leg is able to walk unaided.

If I were to give an analogy of what I do, I’d be... A music conductor. Like a conductor listening critically to music pieces played by the orchestra, I assess the problem areas affecting the use of the hands. I then design therapeutic interventions to restore function to the hands, like a conductor shaping the sound of the ensemble to bring the music to life.

A typical day for me... Starts at 8am and I spend most of the morning attending to patients. Once a week, I attend medical presentations with hand surgeons to keep up-to-date with medical advancements. I’m also responsible for upholding clinical standards within the team and I spend time teaching younger therapists. My day ends officially at 5.30pm, but sometimes I knock off at 6pm. My evenings are spent with my husband and our two sons, aged four and six. My children ride their scooters in the neighbourhood or we play badminton together.

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