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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration

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Patient Education

The most important aspect of prevention is education of the person affected by Hansen's disease.

The patient is the most important person in the team approach to treatment.  The individual's understanding of the mechanisms that cause injury and the potential progression to deformity that may ensue are essential to his/her ability and motivation to develop habits that will effectively protect his/her extremities.  Healthy hand exercises can assist in maintaining function of any hand but with nerve loss these exercises become critical.  Specific exercises are needed to counteract the loss of movement, and unbalanced movement in abnormal directions from nerve injury.  Hydration (rehydration) of nerve injured hands is critical to restore the normal pliability and cushioning of the skin, and to help prevent cracks and wounds which provide an opening for infection.

Healthy Daily Habits:

  • Sand callous
  • Hydrate skin
  • Oil skin
  • Massage hands
  • Inspect hands closely on a regular basis each day
  • Clean and cover all wounds
  • Notice any changes in sensation, muscle strength and skin condition
  • Notify healthcare worker of wounds and changes in hands
  • Wear protective gloves for work
  • Use adaptive equipment/ techniques to protect from cuts and burns
  • Use eyes as an effective substitute for sensation
  • Be aware of potentially hazardous items and hazardous situations in the environment

When patients with established peripheral nerve impairment and secondary sensory and muscle loss no longer accept wounds and infection as inevitable, much can be done to help prevent further damage and disability to already compromised hands.