My wife had a less severe break on the same finger, but on the upper part of the digit closer to the knuckle. Early December 2010.
She had that same type of splint for 1 week, and then a cast for about 3 weeks. She had some therapy for a while after cast removal- twice a week for 4 weeks and then once a week for 8 more weeks- and then did it on her own. She wasn't as diligent as I would have liked and at this point has just a bit less flexibility in the knuckle joint when making a fist. If you work on this part harder, you should not permanently lose any flexibility. But expect a lot of stiffness at first and some loss of strength that will come back quickly with some work.
I recall the Dr. saying something to the effect that there would be lasting effect of achiness for approximately a year or so until fully healed.
She has no problems but occasionally does have some minor soreness.
About the off-hand practice- good idea. When I took my first CCW class the instructor had us do that and just about all the other people in the class said it had never occurred to them to do that. Made me wonder about those people...
Good luck and heal well.