Hand Therapy

“Hand Therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper limb, which include the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder girdle. It is a merging of occupational and physical therapy theory and practice that combines comprehensive knowledge of the structure of the upper limb with function and activity.”

– ASHT, The American Society of Hand Therapists

What Is A Hand Therapist?

A Hand Therapist is a qualified therapist – most commonly an Occupational Therapist with some post graduate qualification in this specialised area of Occupational Therapy.

The Hand Therapist uses skills of observation, clinical assessment and knowledge of the diagnosis along with comprehensive history to devise a treatment plan tailored to the individual patient’s diagnosis, work situation and leisure/sport activities. 

Close teamwork between the hand therapist and referring specialist (hand surgeon or allied therapist colleague) is paramount to the success of the therapy.

Patients can be treated either pre- or post- operatively or as an alternative to surgery in order to regain functional use of the hand. The main aim of hand therapy is to restore function and allow our patients to resume all activities including work, sports and hobbies.

Techniques Used

By Our Hand Therapists Include:

  • Custom fabrication of splints and braces
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Swelling/Oedema management
  • Pain management
  • Wound care
  • Desensitisation and sensibility retraining
  • Therapeutic modalities (ice, heat, massage, etc.)
  • Therapeutic exercise and home programme development – to ensure carryover of therapy gains at home
  • Scar management – burns and post-surgical scars utilising silicone products, massage techniques and customized pressure garments
  • Adaptive techniques and Assistive devices – to ensure independence in all areas of life despite injury (during recovery phase) or disability (arthritis, amputation, brachial plexus etc.)
  • Adaptation of ergonomic layout at the workplace and home to optimise the use of the injured limb, or prevent further damage to the underlying injury and to prevent injuries from repetitive tasks such as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)/ Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD)

Rehabilitation Tools

We use a variety of therapy techniques and tools to assist in the rehabilitation process. Many of these are issued for home use as part of the rehab programme. We stock theraputty, theraband, mini massagers, heat packs, silicone scar reduction products, splints and pressure garments.

Hand Therapy Can Help

  • Joint injuries: Sport strains/sprains, dislocations, ligament injuries, stable fractures with nil surgery
  • Soft Tissue injuries: Tendonitis (golfers elbow, tennis elbow etc), trigger finger
  • Nerve injuries or compression: Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis – therapy for arthritis can greatly reduce pain and improve function and independence in all areas of life. Joint protection techniques, adaptive techniques and assistive devices are used to prevent further injury. Custom fabricated splints can ease pain and allow performance of previously painful or difficult activities. This is particularly effective with base of thumb arthritis
  • Fractures – after surgery using screws, plates or wires inserted to stabilise the fracture
  • Tendon injuries
  • Traumatic nerve injuries
  • Amputations Joint replacements – fingers, thumbs, wrist, elbow due either to arthritis or injury
  • Bone or skin grafts
  • Crush injuries
  • Infections
  • Scar management – burns or post-surgical/injury scars
  • Repetitive strain injuries: Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can be defined as cumulative chronic upper extremity pain, for which no alternative diagnosis is made and which is related (but not limited to) highly repetitive movements, movements at extremes of reach, static muscle loading, awkward sustained positions and overuse.

Several “at risk” occupations have been identified:

  1. computer users,
  2. tele-communicators,
  3. cashiers, secretaries,
  4. typists and
  5. general administrative staff.

Interventions or treatments for RSI must consider (a) the individual (including hobbies and sports) and (b) workplace risks. Ergonomic evaluation of the home and work environment is vital to prevent pain and further injury.

Our Qualified Team

Can Assist You If You Have:

  • any new/unexplained pain in your hand/arm; (whether due to a fall, injury, sport or related to repetitive activity);
  • sore, swollen, stiff joints (think you might have arthritis);
  • had surgery because of a broken bone, ligament injury, tendon injury or a dislocated joint;
  • a change in the feeling in your hand and/or fingers;
  • a scar (raised and red, tight and immobile) from injury or burn.

Should You See Us

Or A Doctor First?

For many conditions we can assess and treat you without a doctor’s referral. These may include:

  • arthritis
  • tendonitis,
  • sprains,
  • strains and
  • joint dislocations.

However, we work very closely with reputable hand/upper limb surgeons and will always treat in conjunction with the referring surgeon, or refer you for a doctor’s opinion should there be any concern or doubt about your diagnosis or progress.

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