Hand Therapy is rehabilitation performed on patients with complex conditions, injuries and surgeries affecting the hands, wrists and elbows. This type of therapy is performed by a therapist with advanced specialization that requires continuing education and advanced certification. This professional is known as a Certified Hand Therapist, known by the CHT after his/her name.
Who needs hand therapy?
The hand is a complicated structure. Therefore, hand injuries can be challenging to treat. Patients who have been operated on by a hand surgeon usually require treatment from a hand therapist. Injuries to tendons, nerves, fractures of the bones of the hand, amputations of the fingers, ands or arms, burns, scars and overuse injuries may need treatment from a hand therapist. Hand therapists make custom splints to aid in the healing process.
What does hand therapy provide?
Preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment:
Management of pain, both acute and chronic
Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
Sensory re-education after nerve injury
Design and implementation of home exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity, and/or strength
Splint fabrication for prevention or correction of injury
Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
Conditioning prior to returning to work
Postoperative Rehabilitation may additionally include:
Management of open or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) or hypersensitive scars
Reduction of swelling
Fabrication of orthoses to protect surgery or increase movement
Instruction in home exercise program
The following are common injuries seen for specialized hand therapy:
Overuse / Repetitive Injuries:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Chronic Hand Conditions:
Arthritis: Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis
Acute or Traumatic Hand Injuries:
Radial and Ulnar Nerve Palsy
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Tendon or Nerve Lacerations
Upper extremity Sports Injuries