Background/Aims: The aim of this research was to explore the commonalities and differences in the issues associated with the functional recovery and rehabilitation of a traumatic hand injury experienced by people in rural/remote and metropolitan/regional areas of North Queensland, Australia. Methods: Responses to a previously mailed survey exploring the functional impact on a rural/remote population and a metropolitan/regional population were used for analysis and comparison. Findings: Both populations reported a loss of movement, pain and stiffness, and a significantly greater percentage of metropolitan/regional respondents reported a loss of strength. Leisure and work tasks were affected for both groups as a result of their impairment. Rural and remote respondents would have liked more appointments but found that it was expensive to get to them. There was a significant reduction for both populations of respondents reporting their occupation as labourers after having a hand injury. There was also a significant increase in those who reported undertaking home duties, were pensioners or unemployed. Conclusion: A traumatic hand injury can have a moderate to extreme impact on work and leisure, regardless of residential location. Contextual factors related to living in rural and remote areas can be both a barrier and a facilitator to participation in functional activities. A review of service provision in rural/remote areas to address concerns regarding the expense of attending appointments and the minimal number of appointments required for rural and remote residents following a traumatic hand injury is recommended. Distance technology such as telehealth can increase flexibility of treatment and reduce the requirement to travel. The ongoing development and implementation of this technology is important to facilitate equitable health care between rural/remote and metropolitan/regional populations.
International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation / Vol. 23, No. 9, pp.406-413