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Hand, Wrist, Forearm & Elbow Conditions > What Is Hand Therapy?
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What Is Hand Therapy?
Working with a knowledgeable hand therapist can make the difference between success and failure in complex hand surgical cases. The therapist extends the continuum of our care, as well as functioning as coach and trainer for our patients.
Marybeth Ezaki, MD, Past President, American Society for Surgery of the Hand
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). Hand therapy 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.
What is a Hand Therapist?
A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who, through advanced continuing education, clinical experience and integration of knowledge in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, has become proficient in treatment of pathological upper extremity conditions resulting from trauma, disease, congenital or acquired deformity. A hand therapist may achieve advanced certification as a certified hand therapist (CHT ). To obtain the CHT credential, a therapist must practice for a minimum of three years, accumulating at least 4,000 hours of treatment for hand and upper extremity disorders. Certified hand therapists must also pass a rigorous certification exam to demonstrate their competency in the practice of hand therapy.
What Can a Hand Therapist Do for Me?
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. 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. A hand therapist employs a variety of techniques and tools, including activity and exercise programs, custom orthotic fabrication, management of pain and swelling and wound and scar care. A hand therapist can also be a consultant in the industrial world, training employees in healthy work habits.
Hand therapy is a specialty practice area under the allied health
occupational therapy group. They are mainly concerned with treating
orthopedic-based upper extremities
(skin, bones, joints, muscles, nerves etc) to optimize the functional and mobility use of the upper
extremity. We address biomechanical issues underlying any hand and upper limb issues.
primarily occupational therapists, the hand occupational therapist
often uses an occupation-based and client centred approach to hand
rehabilitation by identifying the needs of the clients, and then
tailoring interventions to improve performance in their preferred
activities and tasks - it can be wanting to drive again, using the mouse, cutting foods, open a can
of Coke etc.
Common painful finger, hand, wrist, forearm and elbow conditions that
we treat includes fractures in the bones of the arm or hand,
sprains and strains of the ligaments in the joints and connective
tissues, lacerations, cuts, amputations, burns and surgical repairs of
tendons and nerves of the hand and arm.
Examples of hand conditions our senior hand therapist treat:
- Fractures of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, hand and fingers
- Dislocations of the fingers, thumbs, wrists, elbows
- Wrist sprains, thumb sprains and other ligamentous tears
- Nerve compressions and injuries (e.g. ganglion removal or radial nerve palsy)
- Repetitive strain injuries (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome, de Quervain's tenosynovitis, trigger
finger, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow etc)
- Golf-related wrist injuries
- Tendon injuries and repairs
- Finger amputations
- Sports injuries to the hand
patient doesn't need surgery (yet) ie conservative/non-surgical, then
our senior hand therapist will focus on non-surgical hand therapy
interventions such as:
- pain relief/management
- strengthening/stamina building exercises
- return to normal function and movement
If patient already had surgery (considered as post-surgical), our senior hand therapist will work/support the treating
surgeon and focus on:
- decreasing post-surgical pains
- managing wounds/stitches
- restoring movements (when medically allowed)
- hand therapy program to improve strength, stamina and coordination
Some of our hand therapists' treatment includes:
Our senior hand therapists will use a number of hand therapy
interventions and approaches to improve the patient's hand function,
movement and pain
- Joint mobilization
- Pain relief/management
- Hot therapy / cold therapy
- Hand and finger exercises
- Ultrasound therapy to accelerate soft tissue healing
- Tendon gliding exercises
- Scar management
- Sensory re-education (especially with scarring and post-amputation)
- Customized thermoplasting splinting
- Ergonomics: Decreasing Injuries At The Workplace
- Home exercises
- Wound care therapy (orthopedic)
- Removal of stitches (orthopedic)
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Phoenix Rehab Physio Services
Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.
PHYSIOTHERAPY & PHYSICAL THERAPY
HAND THERAPY & SPLINTING
Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists
(sprains and fractures) and fingers, and requires Hand Therapy to increase the function of their hand
following injuries or post-operations as well as custom made hand splints.
Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes
CLINICAL PILATES & WELLNESS PILATES
Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility and breathing.
It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which
meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries
You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
DEEP TISSUE RELEASE & SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPY
Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood
flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to
- accelerate recovery and
- shorten downtime / recovery period required
It also prevents
muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle
Done regularly, it will keeps your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence. Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.
All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).
See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.
At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to
help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.
Follow up sessions are inline to provide
expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific
exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
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