What is hand therapy?
Hand therapy is a special area of rehabilitation. Hand therapy deals with upper extremity function. Using their skills, hand therapists work with their patients to:
- Prevent injury or impairment
- Restore functional activity
- Enhance participation in daily life.
What does a hand therapist do?
A hand therapist looks at and treats problems of the upper extremities…arms, hands, fingers and shoulders. They help the patient in three ways. The first way is to help the patient get well after surgery. Second, they give preventive, non-operative treatment. Finally the hand therapist works with industry to design better work spaces that prevent injury. They also work closely with the physician and patient to provide a continuum of care. This begins within days of the injury or surgery. The hand therapy continues right through the patient’s return to work and/or productive lifestyle.
Who is a Certified Hand Therapist?
A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist. And, the CHT has at least five years’ experience. This means they have 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the CHT has successfully passed a test of important clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT must have continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.
When should someone get a hand therapist?
If a person is experiencing pain, dysfunction, trauma or disease in the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and/or shoulder, then a hand therapist is very appropriate. Due to the complexity of these parts hand therapy should be the first choice for rehabilitation. A person should check with their insurance company to see if a physician’s referral is needed to pay for hand therapy.
Here are some of the common conditions that benefit from hand therapy:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ganglion cyst
- Trigger finger
- Sprains, fractures and dislocations of the finger, wrist or elbow
- Hand pain
- Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
- Golfer’s Elbow (medial epicondylitis)
- Trauma to the hand
- DeQuervain’s disease
- Dupuytren’s Disease
- Amputations of the upper extremity
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Post stroke weakness, fine motor coordination deficits
- Wound care
If you have a question about whether hand therapy is a good choice for you, call AW Health Care for help: (314) 726-5600