Hand Therapy
Hand Therapy

Hand Therapy

Hand therapy is an orthopedic specialty within rehabilitation therapies that focuses on treating injuries and conditions of the forearm, wrist, and hand. It is ideally provided by a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) who is either an occupational therapist or physical therapist with specialized training and experience in treating the hand, wrist, and forearm. CHTs must pass numerous requirements including a board examination that confirms expertise and experience in treating these conditions.

Why is hand therapy a specialized area of treatment?

The hand is anatomically very different than other regions of the human body due in part to the fact that there are so many small joints, bony segments, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and nerves in a very small area. Swelling, scar tissue, or poorly aligned bones or joints can impede normal hand function. To perform everyday activities well, your hand requires the ability to make precision movements of the fingers and thumb which are decidedly different than the function of other parts of the body. In addition, CHTs often utilize and fabricate splints as a part of the rehabilitation process; splint fabrication requires specialized knowledge and experience that part of a CHT’s training.

What kind of conditions do hand therapists address?

CHTs treat common problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger fingers, sprains, strains, and fractures. We also address tendon and muscle conditions such as tennis and golfer’s elbow and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Other less common abnormalities are also addressed in hand therapy such as Dupuytren’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or other post-operative and non-operative disorders.

How do hand therapists promote healing and recuperation?

Hand therapists use exercise and stretches to regain motion as part of a precisely timed program of therapy based on the level of healing, provided in conjunction with the referring doctor or surgeon. The goal is to regain motion and prevent scar tissue formation which can impede motion; this is done by being both strategic and as aggressive as possible, without overloading the healing structures in the hand. We provide patients with home programs, manual therapy, splinting as needed, methods of reducing swelling, and modifying scar tissue. We also provide other types of physical agent modalities such as ultrasound and hot and cold packs. CHTs prescribe adaptive equipment such as large grip pens and automatic jar openers to promote independent function when needed.

How can you find a CHT in the Hudson Valley?

Call MSLC at (845) 458-4267 for an appointment. Our experienced CHT can address any hand, wrist, and forearm issues you may have.

Not in the Hudson Valley?

  • Go to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission’s website at www.HTCC.org and type in your zip code.
  • Alternatively, visit www.ASHT.org, type in your zip code, and look to see if a therapist practicing close to you is a Certified Hand Therapist.