Hand Therapy

What is a Hand Therapist?

A hand therapist is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who, through advanced study and experience, specializes in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity. A hand specialist may also have advanced certification as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).

What does a Hand Therapist provide?

A qualified hand therapist can evaluate and treat any problem relative to the upper extremities. The hand therapist can effectively treat and rehabilitate the patient through postoperative rehabilitation, preventative, non-operative, or conservative treatment, or industry consultation. The therapist works closely with physician and patient to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery right through to the patient's return to work and/or a productive lifestyle.

Postoperative Rehabilitation

  • Management of open or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
  • Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) or hypersensitive scars
  • Reduction of swelling

Preventative, Non-operative, or Conservative Treatment

  • Management of acute or chronic pain
  • Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
  • Sensory re-education after nerve injury
  • Design and implementation of exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity and/or strength
  • Splint fabrication for prevention or corrections of injury
  • Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
  • Conditioning prior to returning to work

Why use a Hand Therapy specialist?

  • Accurate assessments, immediate care, and effective treatment reduce treatment time.
  • The continuum of care eliminates the need for multiple medical providers.
  • Faster recovery results in decreased medical costs.
  • Resulting functional outcomes ensure a faster return to work and productive lifestyle.
  • Hand therapists - both occupational and physical therapists - enhance the skills of others to provide the most comprehensive care for their patients.

What are Common Hand Conditions?

ASHT provides a collection of Patient Education brochures listed below. With a strong interest in helping their patients, additional brochures will be created and posted periodically.

  • De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
  • Digital Amputation, re-plantations
  • Distal Radius fractures
  • Dupuytren's Disease
  • Flexor and Extensor Tendon Injuries, tendon transfers
  • Digital Fractures
  • Trigger Finger


  • Nerve compression (Cubital Tunnel ,Carpal Tunnel, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome)
  • Joint Protection, ergonomics
  • Lateral and Medial Epicondylitis
  • Shoulder conditions (Rotator cuff tears, humeral fractures, dislocations).

Elbow fractures, dislocation, tendon ruptures

What is Splint Fabrication?

Splints (also referred to as orthotics) are used to support, control, and help heal the injured area of the body. Splints come in all shapes and forms and can be used on areas such as fingers, hands, elbows and shoulders. Splints can be custom made, which means a therapist can make a special splint molded to fit only you. If the splint is not custom made, it will be prefabricated, which means it is a splint designed in mass production by companies made for the general public. It is important that your therapist fully explains his/her evaluation of the particular situation and involves you, the patient, in the design and selection of the splint. The splint should meet a functional requirement so you should be able to use your hand when the splint is on you, as long as this is allowed by your medical doctor and is appropriate for your diagnosis. But also the splint should be fashionably acceptable to you so you will not feel self-conscious when wearing it.