WHAT IS A CERTIFIED HAND THERAPIST?
A Certified Hand Therapist is either an occupational therapist or a physical therapist who has completed training beyond the national and state requirements, as a specialist in the treatment of the upper extremity. This includes working in the specialty for a number of years prior to sitting for a board examination and undergoing recertification every five years. Hand therapists have put in the time to become well-versed in the complex anatomy and biomechanics of the hand and arm and in understanding and applying the principles of wound healing in their practices.
Hand Therapy grew as a specilization as a result of the development of current hand surgery techniques of the previous century. The American Society of Hand Therpists was formed in 1978 including both occupational and physical therapists. Momentum for the formation of this clinical specialty occurred in response to the physicians' interest in sending their patients to therapists that were well-versed in treating delicate post-surgical patients and able to make custom splints.
Splints are used for a number of purposes. They can be used for immobilization and protection after surgery similar to a cast but much lighter, more comfortable, easier to function in and removeable. They are also made for the opposite purpose - to help get stiff joints moving. And they can be made to improve function for example, to help someone with weakness oppose their index finger to their thumb for better pinch ability.
Having trouble writing or cooking meals? Hand therapists know how to help people keep doing the things they need to do, on and off the job. We know how to adapt handles, build up a pen and find the right gadget to help you open your jars.
And most Hand therapists do more then just treat hands. We also care for elbows and shoulders. And the people they're attached to. If you have a hand or arm condition, find yourself an experienced hand therapist and it may change you - for the better!