A crucial part of recovery from a physical ailment lies in occupational therapy. Thankfully, highly specialized therapists exist to guide people through the treatment and recovery process. One such expert is a hand therapist, whose specialty is worth exploring.
A certified hand therapist can use his or her practice to bring the many benefits of occupational therapy to your life.
How They Treat
Certified hand therapists have no shortage of expertise—to achieve their certification they must have worked in the field for a minimum of five years, had 4,000 + hours in the area of practice and passed a difficult exam that traditionally has only a 40 percent pass rate. Across the globe, there are only 5,300 certified hand therapists—and two of those are in Sioux Falls at Orthopedic Institute (OI). Hand therapists work alongside occupational therapists, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons to help bring new vigor not only to hands but also wrists, elbows and shoulders affected by any of the following:
- Rheumatoid and osteo arthritis
- Congenital deformities
- Traumatic amputations or injuries
- Wounds and infections
- Joint replacement
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Stroke-related contractures
- Postoperative rehabilitation
- Chronic pain/ Work-related injuries
One of the most satisfying parts of hand therapy is the feeling of restored function. The whole arm is vital to pivotal tasks. Experiencing pain or loss of function would be hard on anyone. Many of the listed conditions take a toll on people in one way or another. More often than not, conditions such as arthritis diminish the enjoyment people receive from beloved hobbies or fulfilling jobs. Due to the complex nature of the hand, they can require surgery and weeks to months of therapy, but the end result can greatly impact a person’s life for the better.
With restored function also comes renewed confidence. When people lose the ability to partake in the hobbies they love or experience pain performing basic tasks, it increases feelings of vulnerability and dependence on others. When a hand therapist expertly walks people through the process of restoring function to their hands and upper limbs, it also gives them back the strength to live as they did before the onset of a painful injury or condition.
Getting through the rehabilitation process with a therapist is learning experience for both parties. As the therapist comes to understand the patient, the patient also learns about his or her injury and the healing process. This experience helps patients understand the importance of hand therapy and the effort needed by everyone involved. Learning about the injury, how it affects the body and what has to happen for healing to occur will better prepare people for the process, should another injury arise.
Pain in your shoulders, wrists, elbows and hands doesn’t just cause inconvenience, but it can also lead to stress, decreased coping abilities, and trouble sleeping. A hand therapist understands this as much as any other occupational therapist and will carefully work with you to relieve pain and/or assist with appropriate modification techniques. Once the building blocks of hand therapy and healing are underway, the ability to function should significantly improve.