We do an incredible amount of things with our hands, from work to play to everyday tasks—which makes hand therapy an important part of regaining function. Hand therapy is the rehabilitation of injuries and/or diagnosis that pertain to the upper extremity—the shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. Diagnoses and treatment cover a wide range including muscle weakness, tendon injuries, tendonitis, nerve-related injuries or neurological disorders.
Rock Valley Physical Therapy has 11 hand therapists on staff, sixof which are certified. To become a certified hand therapist; you need to be a registered therapist (occupational therapist or physical therapist) with five years of experience and 4,000 hours.
A hand specialist can treat patients ranging in age from pediatrics to older adults and may be required for post-operative care, non-operative care and preventative care. After surgery, the patient’s hand may need to be held in a specific position to promote the best healing, so hand therapists may fabricate a custom-molded splint to assist with proper healing. If it is difficult for the patient to regain prior level of function; the therapist may educate the patient in the use of adaptive equipment or how to modify tasks that are completed at home and at work.
Helping individuals regain function, whether at work or home, is what made me want to learn more about hand therapy and become a hand therapist. Could you imagine not being able to complete tasks that you previously could because of increased pain, injury or a neurological diagnosis? We use our hands for so much, and a person is affected not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Each individual’s injury and diagnosis is unique—as a therapist, we have to address all of these areas when working side-by-side with a patient.
Our goal is that each patient will have the comfort of getting back to completing those everyday tasks. No matter what the injury is, the Rock Valley Physical Therapy team treats each patient according to their individual situation, needs and goals.