Hand therapy is a specialized area of physical therapy that focuses on treating injuries and conditions affecting the hand, wrist, and arm. As a hand therapist, you have the opportunity to work closely with patients to help them recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, and improve their overall quality of life. In this blog post, we will explore what hand therapy is, the education required, and the symptoms and problems that it can help resolve.
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is a specialized area of physical therapy that focuses on treating injuries and conditions affecting the hand, wrist, and arm. Hand therapists work with patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, and treat a wide range of conditions, including fractures, tendon and nerve injuries, arthritis, and repetitive strain injuries.
Hand therapy involves the use of manual therapy, exercise, and other modalities to help patients achieve their goals. Hand therapists also educate patients on how to manage their conditions and prevent future injuries.
Education Required for Hand Therapy
To become a hand therapist, you must first earn a degree in physical therapy and gain experience working with patients. After gaining experience, you can pursue certification as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC). To be eligible for certification, you must have at least three years of experience working as a physical therapist, including 4,000 hours of direct hand therapy practice. You must also pass a comprehensive exam to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in hand therapy.
Symptoms and Problems that Hand Therapy Can Help Resolve
Hand therapy can help resolve a wide range of symptoms and problems, including:
- Hand injuries: Hand therapy can help patients recover from hand injuries, including fractures, tendon and nerve injuries, and burns. Hand therapists use a variety of techniques, including splinting, exercise, and manual therapy, to help patients regain function and reduce pain.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Hand therapy can help patients manage carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Hand therapists can teach patients exercises to improve wrist and hand mobility and recommend ergonomic changes to reduce pressure on the nerve.
- Arthritis: Hand therapy can help patients with arthritis manage pain and improve function in the hands and wrists. Hand therapists can teach patients exercises to improve joint mobility and recommend splints or other devices to support the joints.
- Sports injuries: Hand therapists can help athletes recover from hand and wrist injuries and develop a plan to prevent future injuries. This can include rehabilitation exercises and education on proper technique and injury prevention.
- Work-related injuries: Hand therapists can help patients with work-related injuries, including repetitive strain injuries, recover and return to work. Hand therapists can recommend ergonomic changes and teach patients exercises to improve strength and mobility.
Hand therapy is a dynamic and rewarding career choice that can make a significant impact on the lives of patients. It requires a degree in physical therapy and certification as a CHT, but the education and hands-on experience gained in the process can prepare you for a fulfilling career in healthcare. As a hand therapist, you have the opportunity to help patients recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, and improve their overall quality of life. If you are interested in a career in healthcare that involves working closely with patients and making a positive impact on their lives, hand therapy may be the perfect choice for you.