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). It 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.
An Occupational Therapy Specialisation
A hand therapist is an occupational therapist (OT) or physical therapist (PT) who, through advanced continuing education, clinical experience, and integration of knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. This allows the therapist to become proficient in the treatment of pathological upper extremity conditions resulting from trauma, disease, congenital or acquired deformity.
How Does Hand Therapy Help?
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.
For Chronic and Neurological Conditions
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. This allows individuals to complete everyday tasks with their impairment while working on improving mobility and lessening pain.
What To Expect During a Therapy Appointment
Your hand therapist will want to make sure that you are progressing every session towards your goals. To do this, your therapist will consistently measure and track your range of motion, strength, posture, or nerve sensation during every visit – depending upon your needs. Your therapist will also discuss exercises that you can complete at home to further your rehabilitation. These activities will help your recovery advance quicker than just therapy appointments alone.