Hand therapy is the science of treating strength and range of motion in an individual’s upper extremity. It includes arms, hands, wrists, shoulders, elbows, and forearms. Patients seeking hand therapy generally have an injury or chronic condition which demands therapeutic assistance. Hand therapists specialize in this treatment, providing preventative care, post-operational rehabilitation, and non-operative therapy. If you are looking to regain functionality in some part of your upper extremity, then hand therapy may be right for you.

What is hand therapy?

Many people have never heard of hand therapy. Unlike physical therapy – which treats the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck, and shoulders – hand therapy focuses specifically on the shoulder to the hand, and every joint and muscle in between. It can be a component of occupational therapy (OT) or physical therapy (PT), either helping individuals complete everyday tasks with their impairment or working on the impairment directly by improving mobility and lessening pain, respectively.

What is a hand therapist?

A hand therapist is trained in kinesiology, physiology, and anatomy. Coming from a background in OT or PT, a hand therapist typically goes through extensive education and training to become a Certified Hand Therapist – or CHT. CHT certification requires a minimum of five years of clinical experience that consists of at least 4,000 hours of explicit practice in upper extremity work. CHTs must pass a certification exam and complete continuing education every five years to retain their designation.

If you would like to know more about occupational / hand therapy and how it can benefit you please email Linda at lm.smith008@hotmail.com, she would be happy to answer your questions!

What does hand therapy involve?

Hand therapy consists of many different rehabilitation treatments. They can be non-operative, preventative, or post-surgical. Once a CHT has evaluated your condition and consulted with your surgeon or physician, he or she will develop a treatment program that best suits your needs.

Some standard therapy types are:

  • Injury avoidance education
  • Soft tissue procedures
  • Range of motion activities
  • Joint movement
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Nerve desensitization
  • Whirlpools
  • Iontophoresis
  • Occupational conditioning
  • Strength exercises
  • Scar management
  • Dexterity training
  • Pain management
  • Hot or cold packs
  • Taping
  • Custom orthotic creation