Hand therapy is the art and science of evaluating and treating injuries and conditions of the upper extremity (shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand). Hand therapy uses a number of therapeutic interventions to help return a person to their highest level of function.
It evolved from the need for a specialist with the knowledge and experience required to manage the challenging recovery of complex hand and upper extremity injuries.
What is a hand therapist?
A hand therapist is an occupational or a physical therapist who, through advanced continuing education, clinical experience and integration of knowledge in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, has become proficient in treatment of pathological upper extremity conditions resulting from trauma, disease, congenital or acquired deformity.
What can a hand therapist do for you?
Hand therapists bridge the gap from medical management of upper extremity conditions to successful recovery, allowing individuals to function normally in their daily lives. Hand therapists provide non-operative interventions, preventative care and post-surgical rehabilitation for a wide variety of upper extremity disorders, from simple fingertip injuries to complex replanted extremities.
Patients with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, or neurologic conditions, such as a stroke, can benefit from hand therapy through education on joint protection and energy conservation, and with recommendations for adaptive equipment or devices to improve function in their daily lives. A hand therapist employs a variety of techniques and tools, including activity and exercise programs, custom orthosis fabrication, management of pain and swelling, wound and scar care.
A hand therapist can also be a consultant in the industrial world, training employees in healthy work habits and performing ergonomic workstations assessments.
What are the most frequent diagnosis treated in hand therapy?
- Boutonniere Deformity
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Carpo-metacarpal (CMC) thumb arthritis
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrom (CRPS)
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- De Quervain Tendinopathy
- Distal Biceps Rupture
- Distal Radius Fracture
- Dupuytren’s Disease
- Extensor Tendon Injury
- Finger Dislocation Injuries
- Flexor Tendon Injury
- Frozen Shoulder
- Hand Burns
- Hand Edema
- Hand Fractures
- Hand Infections
- Medial Epicondylitis
- Osteoarthritis of the Hand
- Radial Head Fracture
- Scapho-lunate (SL) Wrist Ligament Injuries
- Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
- TFCC Injuries (Triangular fibro-cartilaginous complex)
- Total Elbow Arthroplasty
- Trigger Finger
- Mallet finger
- Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury of the Thumb
*Based on the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) web site.
Questions about hand therapy?
If you have any questions about hand therapy, don’t hesitate to contact our qualified team.