Think about all the things we do with our hands. We touch, hold, write, cook, eat, and button shirts with our hands and the list goes on. What if you lost complete or partial function of your hand? How would that affect your quality of life? What changes would you have to make to adapt? After an injury, wouldn’t you want the best treating your most precious tools? That is why it is so important to see a certified hand therapist.
A certified hand therapist is specially trained in the most intricate details of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, and brachial plexus (the nerves and corresponding vascular bundles exiting the neck). This knowledge, affords you the assurance that you have the best treating your injury, and that your CHT can effectively treat and rehabilitate even the most complicated injuries and surgeries. Your CHT knows the proper protocols for open or sutured wounds, scars, broken bones, the reduction of swelling, and new incisions and stitches. According to Kim Turner, PT, CHT, “You don’t have to be afraid to start therapy after injury or surgery. When you are in the hands of a highly trained certified hand therapist, you will get a better outcome with your injury the earlier you start.” CHTs work closely with the physician and patient to provide a continuum of care. In fact, hand surgeons trust and refer their patients only to certified hand therapists. This is because the anatomy of the arm and hand frequently requires very delicate surgery, often with microscopic techniques. The technical complexity of these kinds of surgeries necessitates a high level of competence by therapists with advanced skills in upper quarter rehabilitation. CHTs are knowledgeable about these advanced surgical techniques and postoperative therapy programs. With some injuries and conditions, it is essential to seek the help of certified hand therapist for the design and implementation of exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity, and/or strength immediately following an injury or surgery. Also, if a patient waits too long to seek the help of a certified hand therapist, they risk the development of scar tissue build-up and stiffness, which can cause pain and limitations in function. Kim treated a patient where this happened. “The course of actual recovery took twice as long because the patient was too scared to come in for treatment before the stitches were out,” states Kim. For these reasons, many athletes, musicians, and artists seek out CHTs for the treatment of their activity related injuries.
Certified hand therapists can also help with the management of acute or chronic pain, desensitization following nerve injury or trauma, and sensory re-education after nerve injury. Certified hand therapists are the only therapists able to provide custom splinting to prevent or correct injuries. They also provide training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment. Another essential a CHT provides is a conditioning program prior to returning to work.
Kim Cochran, OT, CHT pictured above treating one of our Hartland patients, Christina Monson.
For those suffering from osteoarthritis (painful swollen joints in the hands or wrist), a certified hand therapist can provide instruction on proper exercise and mechanics to protect joints, manage pain, and increase function. Other conditions or injuries that would be important to seek the help of a CHT also include deQuervain’s Tenosynovitis, digital amputation, distal radius fractures, ulnar-sided wrist pain, tendon lacerations/ruptures (both flexor and extensor), phalangeal (finger) fractures, wrist fractures, trigger finger, swan neck deformities, boutonniere deformities, and rheumatoid arthritis. They can also treat conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and rotator cuff injuries.
Advanced Hand Rehab is available at all seven Advanced Physical Therapy Center locations. For more information, go to http://www.AdvancedHandRehab.com or call:
Grand Blanc – (810) 695-8700
Clio – (810) 687-8700
Flint – (810) 732-8400
Hartland – (810) 632-8700
Goodrich – (810) 636-8700
Davison – (810) 412-5100
Clarkston – (248) 620-4260