What is hand therapy?

Hand therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper limb, which includes the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder girdle. It is a merging of occupational and physical therapy practice and theory that combines comprehensive knowledge of the structure of the upper limb with function and activity. Using specialized skills in assessment, planning and treatment, hand therapists provide therapeutic interventions to prevent dysfunction, restore function and/or reverse the progression of pathology of the upper limb to enhance an individual’s ability to execute tasks and to participate fully in life situations.

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an Occupational or Physical Therapist who has a minimum of three years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation.

The Hand Therapist can effectively treat and rehabilitate the patient through post-operative rehabilitation, preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment or industry consultation. The therapist works closely with the physician and patient to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery right through the patient’s return to work and/or a productive lifestyle.

The staff of Occupational Therapists at Tahoe Forest Therapy Services available to evaluate and treat upper extremity injuries. 

Meet our hand therapists

Common conditions of the hand, wrist, arm and elbow

As specialized clinicians we offer quality, and expert care for hand and arm conditions. The following list of diagnoses are just a few conditions that we treat daily. Hand therapy may be provided conservatively to assist in avoiding surgery or postoperatively to assist in healing and regaining pain-free use of the extremity.

Fractures and dislocations - Dislocated joints, broken fingers, hands, wrists, and elbows are common in our community. Hand Therapy is often indicated to provide treatment to protect healing bones and progress motion and use after these injuries to regain function as quickly and as safely possible.

Tendonitis - Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and is characterized by pain and often stiffness and weakness in the area. Disorders such as tennis and golfers elbow as well as other upper extremity tendonitis conditions are treated regularly to regain pain free use for work and play.

Arthritis - Hand and thumb arthritis are common conditions that cause pain and weakness in the hands. Our Hand Therapists are experts in fabricating orthotics (splints) to protect and support arthritic joints in the hands and fingers. Education on protective strategies and managing pain in the arthritic joints is another important aspect of hand therapy.

Tendon injuries - Tendon injuries occur frequently when the hand or finger is cut deeply. After injuries to tendons are repaired, hand therapy is an integral component to regaining functional use of the hands.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Upper extremity nerve compression disorders such as carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome are frequently diagnosed with numbness or tingling complaints. These syndromes are managed by our hand therapists to provide education, exercises, and strategies to regain normal sensation and function of the hands.

Trigger finger - Trigger finger, also known as tenosynovitis, is a common condition that is noted by the finger or thumb “locking” into a flexed position. Hand Therapy may be indicated before or after surgery.