Hand therapy is a sub-specialization of rehabilitation concerned with evaluating and treating injuries of the upper extremity (shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand). It uses a number of interventions to help return a person to their highest possible function. To practice as a hand therapist, it is a requirement to undergo further training in the form of clinical experience or certification.
Hand therapists traditionally work closely with hand surgeons and orthopaedic specialists. On occasions, a hand therapist may also work with neurologists, plastic surgeons and rheumatologists.
If a case is non-surgical, hand therapy aims to provide non-surgical solutions to hand and upper limb problems such as pain, weakness or tissue tightness.
If someone is post-operative, a hand therapist supports the treating surgeon to reduce post-operative pain, conduct targeting rehabilitation programs to return a person back to work or full function as soon as the healing process allows.
There are a multitude of diagnosis seen by a hand therapist.
To name a few, this includes:
Fractures of the hand, wrist, fore-arm, elbow and arm
Sprains and ligamentous tears
Nerve compressions and injuries (e.g. ganglion removal or radial nerve palsy)
Repetitive strain injuries (e.g. carpal tunnel, de quervain’s, trigger finger)
Tendon injuries and repairs
Sports injuries to the hand
A hand therapist addresses biomechanical issues as well as has a functional approach by tailoring the needs of a person with their every day demands such as returning to work, return to driving, return to racket sports or even return to piano or sculpting.
Some of the treatments a hand therapist can offer include:
Soft-tissue, manual and trigger point release therapy
Personalised exercise programs
Strengthening programs for upper bodies
Sensory re-education following nerve injury
Splinting and orthosis fabrication
Preparation for return to work and industrial rehabilitation
Ergonomics, postural and computer-work station advice
For further information on hand therapy, please contact: