The hand is an amazing, complex part of the human body, essential for all of our daily self-care, work and everyday activities. Whether writing with a pen, typing on a computer or turning a screwdriver, our hands are important tools in our daily lives. When the hand and upper extremity are unable to function properly due to accidents, disease, repetitive stress and conditions from birth or acquired syndromes, a specialized approach is essential.
Hand therapy focuses in on rehabilitation of the hand and upper limbs and is the merging of occupational therapy and physical therapy theory and practice. Several of our highly skilled physical and occupational therapists go on to become certified hand therapists and are proficient in the treatment of hand and upper extremity pathologies, from the acute to the chronic.
Who needs hand therapy?
The hand is a complicated structure. Therefore, hand injuries can be challenging to treat. Patients who have been operated on by a hand surgeon usually require treatment from a hand therapist. Injuries to tendons, nerves, fractures of the bones of the hand, amputations of the fingers, ands or arms, burns, scars and overuse injuries may need treatment from a hand therapist. Hand therapists make custom splints to aid in the healing process.
What does hand therapy provide?
Preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment:
- Management of pain, both acute and chronic
- Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
- Sensory re-education after nerve injury
- Design and implementation of home exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity, and/or strength
- Splint fabrication for prevention or correction of injury
- Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
- Conditioning prior to returning to work
Postoperative Rehabilitation may additionally include:
- Management of open or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
- Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) or hypersensitive scars
- Reduction of swelling
- Fabrication of orthoses to protect surgery or increase movement
- Instruction in home exercise program
The following are common injuries seen for specialized hand therapy:
Overuse / Repetitive Injuries:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow
- Trigger Finger
Chronic Hand Conditions:
- Arthritis: Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis
- Dupuytren’s Contracture
- DeQuervain’s Disease
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Writer’s Cramp
- Musician Injuries
Acute or Traumatic Hand Injuries:
- Crush Injuries
- Ligament Injuries
- Post-Operative Upper Extremity Conditions
- Radial and Ulnar Nerve Palsy
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Tendon or Nerve Lacerations
- Upper extremity Sports Injuries