This week, we celebrate Hand Therapy Awareness Week. What is hand therapy you ask? Many people are unaware of the specialized nature of hand therapy and what it takes to become a certified hand therapist. It’s a very rigorous process and this is why there are only approximately 6,000 certified hand therapists in the United States.
To become certified in hand therapy, a physical or occupational therapist must complete a minimum of 3 years of clinical practice with over 4000 documented hours specifically in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) must successfully pass exam of advanced clinical skill and and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of the constantly changing nature of the profession, all Certified Hand Therapists must recertify every 5 years.
- What injuries do hand therapists treat? Hand therapists treat a wide variety of injuries and conditions of the upper extremity. These conditions may be acute injuries or more chronic in nature, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Commonly, following surgery to the hand, wrist or elbow, a patient will see a hand therapist for rehabilitation.
- What is a custom splint? Often, rather than immobilizing with a cast, a hand therapist will fabricate a custom splint (or orthosis) that will provide stability and protection to the injury but will also allow for some protected mobility. Many soft tissue injuries, such as tendon lacerations, will require surgical intervention. Following surgery, the hand therapist and surgeon will work closely together to fabricate the splint that will best protect the repair but allow for some motion.
- I can’t do things with my hands that I used to? Many individuals lose the ability over time to do the little things that we all take for granted, like button a shirt, unscrew a jar lid, of lift an object. Hand therapists work with patients of all ages and sizes to improve function. This means that they may use splinting, exercise, strengthening, or adaptation to make patients more functional.
This week, we celebrate our team of Certified Hand Therapists who improve the lives of so many people and who make our company better.