Hand therapy – a subset of occupational and physical therapy – focuses on the evaluation and treatment of patients with injuries and conditions of the upper extremities, including the shoulder, upper arm and forearm, elbow, wrist and hand.
Conducted by licensed occupational therapists (OT) or physical therapists (PT), hand therapy seeks to restore a high level of function to patients dealing with trauma, disease, chronic and neurologic conditions, or congenital deformities.
Though most occupational and physical therapists have experience providing physical rehabilitation for many different parts of the body, additional requirements are needed to become a certified hand therapist (CHT). According to the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), CHTs require a minimum of three years of experience as an OT or PT, plus 4,000 hours of upper extremity-focused rehabilitation. Once this requirement is met, they must pass a certification exam to demonstrate their knowledge of all areas of hand therapy.
The majority of the occupational and physical therapists at Memorial Hermann are certified hand therapists through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission or are currently in the process of pursuing the credential. They work closely with affiliated physicians, orthopedic surgeons and plastic surgeons to ensure that the level of care you receive helps you achieve the best possible treatment outcome.
Hand therapy can provide non-operative intervention, preventive care and post-surgical rehabilitation for a wide variety of upper extremity disorders, including:
At Memorial Hermann, our hand therapists offer a wide range of treatment options, including, but not limited to:
These services help achieve increased mobility and range of motion while reducing pain for patients injured by accidents or trauma resulting in the following:
Our hand therapists also help patients regain and maintain function lost in the upper extremities due to the disabling effects of cumulative trauma disorders, such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic problems like arthritis, or neurological disorders.
Additional hand therapy benefits include:
If this is your first experience with occupational or physical therapy, you may be feeling a little uneasy or unsure about the process. At Memorial Hermann, our staff is here to answer your questions and walk you through the process so your experience with us is as stress-free as possible.
As a first-time patient, you should expect a detailed discussion of your medical history and the reasons for your visit. You will be asked to describe any pain or issues you are having in as much detail as possible.
A comprehensive assessment will also be conducted, consisting of range of motion measurements, sensory and strength testing. Based on the findings, a treatment program will be created.
Our staff will then help you set your therapy goals. For example, are you hoping to return to your daily activities after an injury or restore specific functions you thought were lost due to a chronic condition? This information is important, and will allow our trained professionals to develop a therapy regimen that is built around your individual needs.
The type of treatment you receive will depend on your physician’s diagnosis and your therapist’s initial evaluation. However, the following activities are fairly common for patients undergoing hand therapy treatment:
While the therapy process is different for everyone, patients can expect hand therapy sessions to last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.
If you’re interested in learning more about physical therapy, trained staff members at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation are here to help. Schedule your initial evaluation for physical therapy or occupational therapy today by filling out the form on this page or calling a location below.