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, hands 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
- Tennis Elbow
- Trigger Finger
Chronic Hand Conditions:
- Arthritis: Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis
- Dupuytren's Contracture
- DeQuervain's Disease
- Raynaud's Syndrome
- Writer's Cramp
- Musician Injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Ligament Injuries
- Post-Operative Upper Extremity Conditions
- Radial and Ulnar Nerve Palsy
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Tendon or Nerve Lacerations
- Upper extremity Sports Injuries
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