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Master of Science


Physical Therapy


Joy, MacDermid C.


This study is a qualitative interpretive descriptive study aimed at elucidating the impact of distal radius fracture (DRF) on patients' activities of daily living (ADLs), professional and familial duties, and social support during the healing process. The study focuses on fracture healing during the immobilization phase of injury. This study lies in the constructivist paradigm employing the interpretive description method. A total of 20 participants with DRF in casts were recruited by purposeful sampling from the Hand & Upper limb Centre, St. Joseph’s Hospital enrolled and interviewed over the telephone. Data was analyzed by Braun and Clarke’s Thematic Analysis Approach. Constructed themes were mapped on the biopsychosocial model of rehabilitation. The major themes arising from the data set were discomfort/difficulties with ADL and adaptations to activities with DRF and cast, support patients received from their families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and their expectations from family and friends for providing emotional and physical support. DRF caused people to be mindful of aging and slow healing, people upholding their independent identities, loneliness caused by COVID-19, and DRF being a trigger for emotional upheaval.

Summary for Lay Audience

Distal radius fracture (DRF) is a wrist fracture that typically results from a fall on an extended hand. This fracture is accompanied by symptoms such as pain, decreased grip strength, and limitations in the function of the injured hand that may have an impact on the patient's general health and ability to perform tasks of daily living. This study was conducted under a constructivist paradigm, which means knowledge is co-constructed by the participant and researcher by posing questions and the lived experiences explained by the participants. The interpretive description method was used to conduct this study. This methodology was developed to overcome limitations in formal qualitative traditions, most notably the inability to reliably respond to inquiries about one's experiences with health and illness from holistic, interpretive, and relational viewpoints. Participants were recruited from the Hand and Upper Limb Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London. They were interviewed by the first author, on the phone, after obtaining their informed consent. The collected data was transcribed verbatim and then coded. Thematic analysis generated major themes that depicted the results of the data set. The major themes that emerged were difficulties and discomfort in completing activities of daily living along with adaptive techniques used by participants, they received social support both in physical and emotional help, some were satisfied with the help while some others were dissatisfied with the support they received from their friends and family. The distal radius fracture for some participants caused an emotional upheaval, due to accumulated emotional stress they were suffering through and the fracture was the trigger for their emotional stress. Participants identifying themselves as independent found it difficult to recruit help from others because it was hard for them to depend on others and it affected their independent nature. Other concerns and values that surfaced were being mindful of aging and being more careful in the future. Lastly, the COVID pandemic was identified as a cause of loneliness and limited social support in many cases.