Does your hand hurt? Have you noticed symptoms of pain, discomfort, fatigue and weakness in one or both of your hands? Are your fingers locking and unable to extend, without assistance from the other hand? Have you experienced numbness and tingling that has gotten progressively worse? Does your hand feel clumsy and are you noticing that you drop things from your hand more frequently or are unable to pick up things or open containers with your hands? If so, you may be suffering from one or more of the following chronic hand and upper extremity conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, or nerve conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Has your hand or upper extremity been affected by an accident or trauma leaving you with wounds, scars, burns, injured tendons or nerves, fractures, dislocations or amputations of your fingers, hand or arm? Have you undergone prolonged casting or underwent a surgical procedure? Are you now experiencing severe pain and limitations in motion and function, associated with your injuries?
Whether you are suffering from a chronic hand and upper extremity condition or recently experienced an acute injury, you may be a candidate for hand therapy. If your physician has not already recommended it, you should ask him for a referral so that you can expedite your recovery process.
What is hand therapy? Hand therapy is specialized therapy that focuses specifically on conditions affecting the hand and upper extremity. It can be performed by an Occupational Therapist or Physical therapist who has a high degree of specialization that requires continuing education and often advanced certification.
What can hand therapy do for me?
• Provide preventative , Non-operative or conservative treatment
• Manage acute or chronic pain
• Provide wound care to include care of open and or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
• Control hypertrophy (raised and/or swollen) scars or hypersensitive scars
• Reduce swelling
• Instruct in desensitization and sensory re-education following nerve injury or trauma
• Fabricate splints for prevention or correction of injury or to protect surgical sites or to increase movement
• Design and implement home exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity, and/or strength
• Train in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
• Conditioning prior to returning to work
What is a Certified Hand Therapist?
A Certified Hand Therapist (C.H.T.) is an occupational/physical therapist who specializes in the treatment of hands.
They must have a minimum of 5 years postgraduate experience with at least 4,000 hours in hand therapy and have successfully challenged the Hand Therapy Certification Commission exam in order to obtain these credentials. CHT’s are dedicated professionals who have a commitment to meet the highest standards of their profession. The hand and arm have an extremely intricate anatomy and complexity. Rehabilitation of the hand and arm requires in-depth knowledge and up-to-date techniques. Certified Hand Therapists have the highest level of competence in the rehabilitation of upper extremity injuries.
Certified Hand Therapists are able to initiate treatment immediately following surgery often while stitches are still in place. Early referral to a hand therapist is effective in preventing further surgeries and obtaining an optimal outcome.
Hopefully, this information helps you to make the right decision, when consulting your medical specialist.
“Restoring life back into your hands”