Hand therapy is the modern therapeutic intervention in rehabilitative care performed by physiotherapists or occupational therapists. Hand therapists deal with all upper-extremity ailments. Hand therapy is very important nowadays because we use our hands regularly and they may lose their strength due to regular wear and tear. Hand therapists’ prime job is to help patients get back into their productive lifestyles. They start their rehab program after initial assessments. They evaluate the patient’s condition thoroughly and then start their test. They will set fitness goals according to the present conditions of the patients. When patients perform certain examinations, they set a particular baseline function for the forearm, shoulder, wrist, and upper arm. The output will help therapists to make an effective therapeutic program to achieve desired functions.
Hand therapists used to add different types of treatment to make the entire therapeutic intervention top-notch quality. It may also include assignments that patients need to complete at their home. Therapists will check the output and assess the progression. Patients need to follow the session to avoid moving backward. Sometimes patients may feel it challenging to move forward with the at-home physical challenges but they need to put effort to move forward and get cured properly. Lack of effort will prolong the recovery process.
If you come across an accident, trauma, or arthritis in the upper extremity, then you are suggested to take the help of a hand therapist. There are lots of problems a therapist can resolve. Like
- They can treat your sports injuries and accidental injuries
- Soften scars
- Minimize the adhesion between tendon and skin
- Ease the nerve glide process, tendons glide, and joint movements
- Offer treatments with reduced swelling
- A design exercise program to reduce pain
- Educate patients who have gone through amputation in their arms, hands, finger
- Offer mental support to manage pain properly
Teach patients with amputations of the fingers, hands, or arms to learn to be functional. They may suggest some assistive devices to execute things in a new way. They sometimes recommend tools to alleviate problems of lost functionalities. Common problems therapists found include tendon repairs, arthritis fracture, stiffness, lack of range of motion, tennis elbow, trigger fingers, and carpal tunnel syndrome, lack of flexibility and nerve action due to stroke.
How do hand therapists help their patients?
Human hands have the most complex structure, where a series of systems work together to transfer motion and sensory information such as temperature and touch. These sensations support us to execute intricate tasks such as coding, writing, and typing where we genuinely require fine motor skills. Our upper extremities such as our hands, and arms are susceptible to a number of disorders such as injuries, medical conditions, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, an auto-immune disorder, bone weakness, and sports injuries, muscle agility. All these problems can be resolved by a hand therapist. They assist us to mitigate symptoms and offer relief from pain.
Benefits of taking consultation from a hand therapist:
- They offer a non-invasive treatment option
- Alleviate and helps the patient cope with long-lasting pain
- Minimize pain due to nerve agility and complications
- Offers sensory re-education
- Provide customized home exercises that help in movement and restoring strength
- Patients receive custom-made splints to safeguard injured ligaments, bones, tendons, and any surgical wound. The splint also helps to improve stiffness
- Assist patients in pain management and restore functionalities with a special tool
- Provide mental strength to regain functional strength
- Offer proper hand rehab care after surgery that includes a safe wound healing process, prevent infection, scar management & minimization of inflammation
Hand therapists’ basic treatment process.
Their basic treatment plan includes exercises, strengthening, scar treatment, edema control, and pain control.
- Strengthening: It includes Squeezing of grip strengthener, squeezing the ball, lifting weight, and other aids.
- Exercises: These exercises include hand and finger exercises that patients should do to gain muscle strength, and regain optimum functionalities. Also, patients need to do passive exercise for their stiff joints to gain a Range of motion without hurting joints.
- Scar treatment: mainly include Massage therapy, acupressure, tapping, and playing with silicone putty to increase stretching flexibility
- Edema control: It is used to compress garments and wrap around them for getting a retrograde massage for activating the motions
- Pain management: It is basically done with iontophoresis, fluid therapy, heat-cold therapy, therapeutic-ultrasound, mirror therapy, desensitization
Hand Therapy: designed for hand Arthritis
Hand therapy can help patients who’ve suffered from hand arthritis and wounds. They will teach patients how to maintain movement and alleviate pain. This is a therapy that minimizes the symptoms and prevents the requirement of hand surgery by implementing some conservative treatment processes.
Hand therapy arthritis is best for managing and minimizing joint pain, boosting the range of motion, increasing dexterity and strength, desensitizing associated nerves after traumatic processes, educating patients with modern training to cope with physical ailments, and continuing physical activities in personal and professional life.
Major types of hand problems can be treated with hand therapy
Such as Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendon injuries, Sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, bone dislocation, joint instabilities, Nerve compression injuries, rotator cuff tears, sports injuries, soft-tissue injuries, Amputations, and congenital hand anomalies.
Hand therapists help their patients to get back to work!
Hand therapists can talk with working professionals about balancing and resolving problems associated with work. Overworking may cause injuries in the hand, which can be avoided or prevented through simple exercise with a squeeze ball or hand gripper. They also advise multiple better ways to do your job in a good, healthy environment. But before that, they analyze and improve workplace ergonomics to make the workplace more health-friendly, and efficient. The designed hand therapy process in such a way that stimulates the working environment with zero stress.
What can you expect while taking a hand therapy appointment?
Your hand therapist first checks your health to assess and diagnose your problem, then starts designing your hand therapy program which could be personalized or basic depending on your problem. But before that CHT will check the range of motion, posture abnormalities, and nerve sensation at every visit, then make a rehab program that suits you most. But patients must keep in mind, hand therapy is not magic, it is a long-term process.