S. PICKING THINGS UP – THUMB POSITION
When you go to sleep try to position your fingers in a fist with the tip of your thumb tucked inside your first finger. The point of this is get the tendons in your thumb to set in a position that results in a good tenodesis grip between your thumb and first finger when you extend your wrist.
In the first few months after I became a quad I was advised by an older quad to sleep with my fingers in a fist, and the tip of my thumb tucked inside the first finger. He was able to pick up remarkably small and/or heavy objects compared to me at the time. So I followed his advice, and have continued to every night ever since.
It works. After a very short time my thumbs ended up in a position that meant whenever I extended my wrist the thumb and first finger would pinch together. This means I can pick up lots of things. Some things remain difficult or impossible. For example, very small, smooth or heavy things, especially things that are all three at once.
As I understand it the reason this works is that it has allowed the tendons in my thumb to set in a position that results in a good tenodesis grip between my thumb and first finger.
I have had this theory more or less confirmed recently in a very unfortunate way. My left thumb has developed mysterious and almost constant spasm. This means it is being straightened regularly which has stretched the tendons in my left thumb so it is no longer stuck in a good position. As a result my left thumb and first finger no longer meet when I extend my wrist, and therefore I can no longer pick up much with my left hand.
my right thumb showing how the bend in it, and its position, has given me a very useful tenodesis pinch
my left thumb showing how it is now straight, and in a bad position, which results in a non-functional tenodesis pinch
What the experts say
CLICK HERE for an article that concludes “In the long term, most C6 and C7 tetraplegics attain a high level of hand function despite poor lateral grasps’
Rule number 19 – The thumb is the key to a good C6 grip. Thumb position can be the difference between dependence and independence.