Hand therapy, according to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC), is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper quarter of the human body. A certified hand therapist (CHT) is a physical or occupational therapist who has at least five years clinical experience and has passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in shoulder, arm and hand rehabilitation.
Because the complex anatomy of the arm and hand often requires intricate and sometimes microscopic surgery, it is especially important for patients to be assured that their hand therapist is well trained in the latest post-operative rehabilitation techniques and treatments.
Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital’s hand therapist has specialized training in hand therapy and can evaluate and identify problems relative to the upper extremities. The hand therapist can effectively treat and rehabilitate the patient through postoperative rehabilitation, prevention, non-operative or conservative treatment.
Post-operative rehabilitation includes:
- Management of open or suture wounds
- Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) and hypersensitive scars
- Reduction of swelling
- Instruction of therapeutic exercise to increase function of hand
Preventive, nonoperative or conservative treatment includes:
- Management of acute or chronic pain
- Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
- Sensory re-education after nerve injury
- Design and implementation of exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity and/or strength
- Splint fabrication for prevention or correction of injury
- Conditioning prior to returning to work
- Treatment for hand injuries (flexor/extensor tendon, crush, fractures, arthritis)
- Treatment for cumulative trauma (carpel tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain’s, epicondylitis)