Hand therapy is a type of rehabilitation performed by an occupational or physical therapist for patients that have conditions affecting the hands and upper extremities. Therapy is very important. Hand therapy helps patients return to their productive lifestyles. Therapy often starts with an initial evaluation. This will help the therapist learn what symptoms you have and what your goals are. They will review the prescription and treatment you have already started. The therapist will then perform a detailed exam. This will establish your baseline function. Then they will create a plan with goals and a timeline. This plan will help reach your desired function.
Who Can Benefit from Hand Therapy?
Hand Therapy is for anyone experiencing pain in an upper extremity (hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder). Conditions treated include:
- Fractures of the hand, wrist, and elbow
- Post-operative, acute, and chronic injuries
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Boutonniere’s and Swan Neck deformities
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
- Dupuytren’s Contractures
- Ganglion cysts
- Elbow tendonitis
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Trigger Finger
- Wound care
How do therapists help improve function?
- Exercises. These may include active hand and finger exercises where the patient uses their own muscle strength. Passive exercises are when the patient or therapist pushes a stiff joint to move without the patient using their own tendons/muscles.
- Strengthening. This may include use of putty of different firmness, grippers, weights, TheraBands and other aides.
- Scar treatment. Friction massage, taping, use of silicone putty/sleeves/sheets
- Edema control. Use of external compression garments and wraps, retrograde massage, elevation, and active motion
- Pain control. Somethings that may help pain include fluidotherapy, ionotophoresis, therapeutic ultrasound, desensitization, mirror therapy, and guided imagery.