What is Hand Therapy?

Hand Therapy

Hand therapy – a subset of occupational and physical therapy – focuses on the evaluation and treatment of patients with injuries and conditions of the upper extremities, including the shoulder, upper arm and forearm, elbow, wrist and hand.

Who Performs Hand Therapy?

Conducted by licensed occupational therapists (OT) or physical therapists (PT), hand therapy seeks to restore a high level of function to patients dealing with trauma, disease, chronic and neurologic conditions, or congenital deformities.

Though most occupational and physical therapists have experience providing physical rehabilitation for many different parts of the body, additional requirements are needed to become a certified hand therapist (CHT). According to the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), CHTs require a minimum of three years of experience as an OT or PT, plus 4,000 hours of upper extremity-focused rehabilitation. Once this requirement is met, they must pass a certification exam to demonstrate their knowledge of all areas of hand therapy.

The majority of the occupational and physical therapists at Memorial Hermann are certified hand therapists through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission or are currently in the process of pursuing the credential. They work closely with affiliated physicians, orthopedic surgeons and plastic surgeons to ensure that the level of care you receive helps you achieve the best possible treatment outcome.

Common Conditions Treated with Hand Therapy

Hand therapy can provide non-operative intervention, preventive care and post-surgical rehabilitation for a wide variety of upper extremity disorders, including:

Overuse/Chronic Injuries

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • De Quervain's tenosynovitis
  • Trigger finger
  • Bursitis and tendonitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Disabilities caused by neurological conditions

Acute Injuries

  • Sprains and strains
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Fractures (fingers, thumbs, wrists, forearms, elbows)
  • Nerve entrapment
  • Burns, wounds
  • Amputations

Benefits of Hand Therapy

At Memorial Hermann, our hand therapists offer a wide range of treatment options, including, but not limited to:

  • Manual therapy
  • Soft-tissue massage
  • Orthotic fabrication
  • Scar management
  • Myofascial release

These services help achieve increased mobility and range of motion while reducing pain for patients injured by accidents or trauma resulting in the following:

  • Wounds
  • Scars
  • Burns
  • Injured tendons or nerves
  • Fractures or amputation of the finger, hand or arm

Our hand therapists also help patients regain and maintain function lost in the upper extremities due to the disabling effects of cumulative trauma disorders, such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic problems like arthritis, or neurological disorders.

Additional hand therapy benefits include:

  • Accurate assessments and immediate care intended to reduce overall treatment time
  • A streamlined treatment process that eliminates the involvement of multiple medical providers
  • A focus on rapid recovery in order to decrease total medical costs and return patients to their daily lives faster
  • A comprehensive level of care before, during and after treatment is complete

What to Expect During Hand Therapy

If this is your first experience with occupational or physical therapy, you may be feeling a little uneasy or unsure about the process. At Memorial Hermann, our staff is here to answer your questions and walk you through the process so your experience with us is as stress-free as possible.

As a first-time patient, you should expect a detailed discussion of your medical history and the reasons for your visit. You will be asked to describe any pain or issues you are having in as much detail as possible.

A comprehensive assessment will also be conducted, consisting of range of motion measurements, sensory and strength testing. Based on the findings, a treatment program will be created.

Our staff will then help you set your therapy goals. For example, are you hoping to return to your daily activities after an injury or restore specific functions you thought were lost due to a chronic condition? This information is important, and will allow our trained professionals to develop a therapy regimen that is built around your individual needs.

The type of treatment you receive will depend on your physician’s diagnosis and your therapist’s initial evaluation. However, the following activities are fairly common for patients undergoing hand therapy treatment:

  • Exercises to increase range of motion
  • Activities to improve fine motor coordination
  • General strength and conditioning exercises
  • Ongoing education to prevent reoccurrence and degeneration of condition

While the therapy process is different for everyone, patients can expect hand therapy sessions to last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.

Find Treatment

If you’re interested in learning more about physical therapy, trained staff members at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation are here to help. Schedule your initial evaluation for physical therapy or occupational therapy today by filling out the form on this page or calling a location below.

Ready for Relief?

If you’re interested in finding relief through physical or occupational therapy, the licensed therapists at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation are here to help. Request an initial evaluation appointment with one of our physical or occupational therapists by filling out the form on this below or calling call (713) 521-0020 or 1-888-301-8477.

Thank
You!

Thank you for contacting the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation. We have received your inquiry, and a team member will contact you soon.

If you need more immediate assistance, please call us at (713) 521-0020.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.