By Molly English-Bowers
It’s been a busy few months at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists’ Hand & Wrist Center. Last fall, physicians moved into new space on the second floor at 5719 Widewaters Parkway, DeWitt. And just over a month ago in March 2023, physical and occupational therapists moved into the same location.
“Bringing everyone who treats hand, wrist and elbow injuries under one roof means better collaboration between therapists and doctors,” said director of hand therapy at SOS Benjamin Brightman, MS OT/L, CHT, of the move from 5823 Widewaters Parkway, East Syracuse. “It also allows patients to have easier, same day services. If a patient is being fitted for a custom splint and needs therapy the same day, we’re able to accommodate them more easily. It was more complicated for patients to leave one office and go to another. Our new location gives us and them immediate access, which is better for the patient. We’re better able to streamline our processes and have better protocols, so everyone on the team knows what is expected and what the outcome should be.”
Now, when a patient sees a physician for a post-operative appointment, that patient can cross the hall to visit PT or OT during the same appointment, if need be. Likewise, if a therapist needs a doctor’s expertise, a patient can walk across the hall. It’s comprehensive treatment in one location. Both departments share a waiting room, with doctor offices on one side and therapy offices on the other.
The new hand center has two dedicated X-ray machines and state-ofthe- art equipment, allowing for a more efficient continuum of care and even better patient outcomes.
The Hand & Wrist Center’s treatment team includes six fellowship-trained orthopedic hand and wrist surgeons and five certified hand therapists and assistants. One of those physicians, Devon Ryan, MD, joined SOS in August 2022 as the newest member of the medical team. He’s been very pleased with his transition to the practice. “Everyone working at the Hand Center, from the front desk to the other hand surgeons, has been incredibly accommodating and helpful, so getting my practice up and running has been as streamlined as possible.”
“I think part of our expansion is population-driven within the broader Syracuse area, and with Amazon expanding and Micron on the way, our population will only get larger as more people move here for jobs ” said Ryan.
Brightman has worked at the Hand and Wrist Center for almost six years. He supervises two occupational therapists and two occupational therapy assistants who treat more patients year over year. “There’s more awareness within the general population, so they seek care more,” he said. “We’ve grown every year that I’ve been here. Before we moved in, it was more complicated for patients to leave one office and drive to another. Our new facility gives them and us immediate access.”
Wrists and hands present a variety of conditions, both chronic, like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and trigger finger, and acute, such as sprains and fractures. It’s that variety that appeals to Ryan. “I really like the complexity; there’s quite a bit of intricate anatomy involving the hand and wrist,” he said. “You work with all different tissue types—more than skin and bones.”
Among the conditions treated by physicians at SOS are ganglion cysts, finger dislocation, trigger finger and tendon injuries. Carpal Tunnel Release is the most common operation performed at SOS. In 2022, over 1,600 carpal tunnel surgeries were performed at The Specialists’ One-Day Surgery Center. The cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, however, isn’t always as simple as occupational or repetitive motions such as typing at a computer keyboard.
“It’s hard to know for sure if those are the causes,” said Ryan. “What’s more clear is that those types of activities worsen the symptoms. I suspect that mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more symptomatic than it was 10 or 20 years ago given the increasing usage of computers and smartphones. In addition, 30 to 40 years ago, the surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was a bigger deal; there was a larger incision and longer recovery.”
Now most of these surgeries are endoscopic, with a single 1/2-inch incision in the wrist. “Recovery is often as short as a 2-3 days, which allows for a quicker return to work,” Ryan said. “Sometimes the full recovery can take a few months, but the typical patient sees almost immediate relief. A lot of patients, when they finally pull the trigger on Carpal Tunnel surgery, say they wish they had taken the leap sooner.”
Indeed, according to clevelandclinic. org, the success rate for carpal tunnel surgery is 95 percent. If you need treatment for hand and wrist ailments, contact the SOS Hand & Wrist Center at 315-251-3162 or visit sosbones.com. There you will find information on the center’s physician and therapy team, as well as conditions
Left: Devon J. Ryan, MD
Right: Benjamin Brightman, MS, OT/L, CHT