What is Hand Therapy?

Friday, December 28th, 2018, 7:00 am

Hand therapy is the art and science of evaluating and treating conditions of the upper extremity. Whether a patient is dealing with a complex hand injury or repetitive trauma injury, it is important to seek the skilled knowledge of a Certified Hand Therapist. The patient needs to understand their diagnosis and how to manage their recovery. The Orthopaedic Institute provides hand therapy under the direct care of a Certified Hand Therapist.  Our goal with every patient is to return them to their highest level of function and to help them regain independence using their hand/arm again. This is important, not only in their daily functions and work lives but also, in their leisure activities. A Certified Hand Therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who has passed a rigorous board certification examination and has advanced continuing education, extensive knowledge, and clinical experience specific to of the diagnosis of upper extremity injuries, whether from trauma, disease, or the result of an injury in the home or workplace. The Certified Hand Therapist is able to help the patient understand the medical management of their injury and then proceed to incorporate functional activities and therapies to get them back to their everyday lives.


Patients with chronic conditions including arthritis can benefit from education to help them adapt their daily lives to preserve the joints involved and to allow them to participate in activities they enjoy. Some arthritis patients can benefit from splinting. This can include custom molded braces to immobilize and rest the joint and/or suggestions for over-the-counter options to help them complete their daily functions. Individuals suffering from arthritis may also benefit from skilled treatments utilizing therapeutic modalities and exercise in structured therapy settings.


Many people seek out hand therapy for repetitive trauma injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome. Hand therapists treat carpal tunnel syndrome by providing appropriate night splinting to ease the symptoms and teaching simple stretches to take the pressure of the median nerve. If carpal tunnel surgery is necessary, a Certified Hand Therapist will help the patient understand the process of their surgery and aid in their recovery. Hand therapy is beneficial following surgery to ensure clean surgical wounds, an explanation of the diagnosis and the healing process as well as providing flexibility exercises to help the patient recover properly. This gives the patient confidence to get back into their normal routines.


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