What is a hand therapist?

I've seen my doctor, he's performed surgery on my hand and wrist and is now telling me that I need therapy. He said that it is important that I see a hand therapist. Why can't I go to just any therapist?

December 23, 2015

While a hand therapist can be an Occupational or Physical Therapist, it is their training that differentiates them from other therapists. To become a hand therapist, a person must have graduated from an accredited occupational or physical therapy program. The advanced training required includes 5000 hours of direct hand expierience and having practiced as an OT or PT for 5 years. They must then take and pass a certification exam given by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC). To stay current, they must perform and pass coursework focused on the trends and techniques in hand therapy practice in order to maintain their certification.

The anatomy and biomechanics of the upper extremity is quite complex. A Certified Hand Therapist's (CHT) training requires them to understand this anatomy and the complex surgeries required. Drawing on that knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy, a CHT has advanced skills in splinting and is able to utilize splints to inhibit unwanted movement, thereby maximizing function as a part of therapy.

Once therapy begins, you will be evaluated, and a specialized plan of treatment will be established, keeping in mind your goals. During therapy, treatment techniques may include strengthening, exercise, manual therapy, electrical or thermal modalities and wound care. You will be re assessed and re measured periodically druing the course of treatment to monitor and document progress.


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