Hand Therapy. As humans, we rely heavily on the use of our hands and arms to accomplish many of the tasks we encounter in our daily lives. Our hands are exceptionally complex, made up of different types of joints, bones, and an intricate system of blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and muscles, all of which must work in concert to allow the fine motor control needed to button a shirt, hold a coffee cup, or type an email. When you have a condition or injury that affects your hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow, you need the skilled care provided by a hand therapist.
Skilled hand therapy can be the difference between a successful recovery and return to normal activities versus suffering from lasting complications, pain, and limitations. A well-designed hand therapy program will be individualized to your specific injury. Goals for recovery will include protection and possible splinting, pain reduction, graded movement restoration, strengthening, and improvement of fine motor skills along with other hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder functions, making it possible for you to live, work, and play without pain. Axes Physical Therapy delivers quality hand therapy near you. Contact us today to learn more about our hand therapy program or to schedule your first appointment.
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is a medical sub-specialty under the general field of occupational or physical therapy. Hand therapists address issues affecting the arms, elbows, forearms, hands, wrists, and fingers both acute and chronic. The purpose of hand therapy is to improve upper extremity function as it relates to the nature of your condition.
In hand therapy, the complex principles of anatomy, physiology, and joint kinesiology converge as they relate to upper extremity function. Experienced hand therapists apply their extensive knowledge and understanding of how the human hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, arm and shoulder work together so that their patients can perform activities of daily living, go to work, or play sports. Hand therapists stay up to date on clinically researched best practices and medically proven approaches to managing upper extremity injuries. They apply scientific evidence and work closely with the best orthopedic and plastic hand surgeons in the St. Louis region. The exact treatment is dependent upon the patient, their condition, and their goals.
A physical therapist or occupational therapist who has specifically trained in treating the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, and shoulder is a hand therapist. They must go through advanced education and have clinical experience treating a wide variety of conditions affecting the upper extremity such as traumatic injuries, chronic disease, musculoskeletal injuries, neurological conditions, and deformities.
Some physical and occupational therapists pursue and obtain advanced certification in hand therapy practices. These professionals hold the title of a Certified Hand Therapist – also known as a CHT. There is a rigorous qualification process that one must complete in order to qualify as a CHT. That process includes three years of professional practice including 4,000 hours of upper extremity treatment and an intensive certification exam. In addition, hand therapists must requalify every five years to maintain their certification.
Axes Physical Therapy employs some of the most talented physical therapists and occupational therapists in the Greater St. Louis area, many of whom are accomplished Certified Hand Therapists. Our talented CHT’s work continuously to meet the rigorous demands required to maintain their certification and provide the best hand therapy to each of their patients. We match each patient with the individual who is best equipped to meet his or her hand therapy needs.
Hand Therapy Applications
Hand therapy treats upper extremity complaints such as:
- Chronic conditions (i.e. osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Acute and chronic pain
- Joint injuries
- strains and sprains
- Joint dislocation
- Tendon lacerations
- Post-surgical management and rehabilitation
- Tendonitis and tendonosis
- Compression syndromes (i.e. carpal tunnel)
- Nerve and neurological conditions
- Amputations and limb and digit reattachments
When you come to Axes Physical Therapy for specialized treatment of your hand, wrist, or elbow, you will receive the expert care of a Certified Hand Therapist. In addition to the highly technical evaluation and treatment of your upper extremity injury, you will also benefit from the comprehensive approach all our patients receive. We treat each patient entirely – from the source of your discomfort to the activities your condition has affected – with a focus on helping you return to the activities you enjoy the most. Our client-centered approach means that your experience and recovery matter most to us. Your hand therapy specialist will formulate an intricate treatment plan based on your history, medical and surgical procedures (if any), and your goals for recovery.
When you are trying to determine whether hand therapy is for you, consider what this treatment option can offer. Hand therapy provides:
- A treatment solution that doesn’t require surgery
- Improved upper extremity function
- Management of acute and chronic pain
- Reduced sensitivity to nerve-related problems
- Recovery from tendon or nerve injuries
- Improved movement and strength
- Reduced stiffness
- New, modified ways to execute everyday activities
- Preparation to return to work
Hand Therapy Treatment
Hand therapy treatment is unique to each injury and patient. Your hand therapy treatment team will apply their skill and expertise in upper extremity anatomy and function combined with an in-depth understanding of your personal goals and priorities. Depending on the nature of your injury or condition, the location of the injury, and what kind of activities you wish to return to, your hand therapist will develop a treatment plan that works for you. Focus may be given to protection, improving strength, reducing stiffness, managing pain, practicing movement, or preventing further medical complications like infection and improper healing.
Your hand therapist will employ non-operative interventions, preventative care, and rehabilitation strategies to guide you back to the upper extremity function you find necessary in your daily life. Patients with simple isolated fingertip injuries, complex tendon or neurological conditions, and everyone in between all count on hand therapy to get back to the everyday tasks life demands – such as unlocking and opening doors – as well as the occupational tasks specific to their unique lives – such as performing work duties like typing and lifting and personal functions like holding a baby.
There are a wide variety of treatment methods that may be employed in hand therapy treatment. In order to receive the best results, it’s important that you take an active role in your hand therapy treatment plan. Your hand therapist will work closely with each patient and your medical providers to determine which treatments are most appropriate and best meet your needs.
A hand therapy program may include:
- Home exercises
- Patient and caregiver education
- Functional activity simulation
- Targeted exercise
- Manual interventions
- Neuromuscular re-training
- Neural gliding
- Work simulation
- Dexterity and sensitivity training
- Custom splinting
- Wound and scar care
Hand Therapy Treatment Near Me | Axes Physical Therapy
You have a hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder injury or condition that makes it difficult to function in your daily life. Other medical providers do not have the specialized skill and experience necessary to properly care for your upper extremity issues. Hand therapy from a Certified Hand Therapist at Axes Physical Therapy provides the expert care and treatment that will restore the movement, flexibility, and strength necessary to accomplish the tasks you perform every day.
Finger, hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, arm, and shoulder conditions and injuries are often complex, and recovery can be challenging. Put your recovery in the hands of the leading hand therapists by scheduling an appointment with Axes Physical Therapy today. Our multiple locations that offer hand therapy are locally owned and operated and conveniently located throughout the Greater St. Louis area. Contact us or request an appointment online today.