Hand Therapy

As the name suggests, hand therapy is a type of occupational therapy concerned with treating and rehabilitating various upper-extremity injuries and conditions. The goal of a hand therapy program is to restore function in the hands and arms so that the patient can participate in the daily activities that he or she desires. Occupational therapists treat hand or arm fractures, lacerations, amputations, burns, tendonitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and post-surgical issues. A hand therapy treatment program typically targets the underlying biomechanical issues associated with the patient’s condition. The therapist will begin with a thorough assessment of the patient’s functional abilities and goals. Then, the therapist will use the results of that assessment to create an individualized treatment plan, which may begin with either preparatory methods—for example, exercises to address range of motion and muscle strengthening—or purposeful activities. The therapist will add more real-life activities to the plan as the patient progresses, taking care to choose activities that the patient will actually perform on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, the therapist may make adaptations to those activities so that the patient is able to perform daily tasks as he or she waits for the condition to heal. The therapist also may provide splints or other equipment to maximize the patient’s ability to live independently.