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 theory and practice 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 in order to enhance an individual’s ability to execute tasks and to participate fully in life situations.

Theoretical knowledge and technical skills are applied, using good clinical judgment, in assessment and treatment of individuals with diagnoses related to the upper quarter (hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder girdle, cervical area or multiple joints). These may include but are not limited to:

Adhesions or tightness (e.g., musculotendinis, capsular)
Arthritis and rheumatic diseases
Congenital anomalies/differences
Crush injuries/mutilating trauma
Cumulative trauma disorders
Cysts and tumors
Developmental disabilities
Dislocations and subluxations
Dupuytren’s disease
Factitious disorders
Ligamentous injury and instability
Muscular strains, tears, and avulsions
Nerve injuries and conditions (e.g, neuropathies, palsies, nerve repairs)
Neuromuscular diseases – ALS, MS, MD
Pain (e.g. complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia)
Replantation and revascularization
Spinal cord and central nervous system injuries
Tendon injuries and conditions (e.g, lacerations, transfers, tendonitis, ruptures)
Thermal and electrical injuries
Vascular disorders
Wounds and scars