What’s the Big Deal About Hand Therapy?

shiatsu massage on hands for arthrosis

reflexology on hands for relaxation

In the most general sense, when one thinks about rehabilitation from an illness or injury, it is commonly thought that Physical Therapy has its focus on the lower extremities:  the hip, knee, ankle, and foot for walking, running, balance, and agility; and that Occupational Therapy has its focus on the upper extremities: the shoulder,elbow, wrist, and hand for holding, carrying, and manipulating objects. But if Occupational Therapy focuses on the upper extremity, what’s the big deal about “Hand Therapy?” The big deal is that the hand IS a big deal!

The hand is a complicated structure of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves with tendon sheaths and pulleys forming tunnels (or pathways) to guide the movement of the fingers.  The muscles in your hand and forearm have to work together, and tendons must glide freely in order to produce smooth, coordinated movement of your hand.  Yes, the hand is a very big deal.

What is Hand Therapy?

Hand Therapy is a specialty area of practice for Occupational and Physical Therapists.  In addition to being licensed generalists in their individual areas of occupational or physical therapy, Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) have advanced training through continued education in the intricate anatomy, physiology and kinesiology of the hand and arm; up to five years of specialty clinical practice, accumulating up to 4,000 hours treating acute and chronic, complex conditions of the upper extremity.  Following the completion of these prerequisites, practitioners must demonstrate competence by passing a rigorous examination, and maintain a current knowledge-base about surgical techniques and postoperative therapy programs and protocols, as well as with advances in best practices for rehabilitation in hand therapy.

What conditions do hand therapists treat?

  • Amputations
  • Arthritis
  • Burns
  • Hand, finger, wrist & elbow fractures
  • Inflammatory conditions of the upper extremity
  • Joint replacements
  • Post-surgical tendon and nerve repair
  • Progressive and degenerative disorders
  • Sports and work-related injuries
  • Tendon and nerve injuries
  • Traumatic injuries

Hand Therapy at Milford Regional Medical Center:

MRMC has four Certified Hand Therapists on staff at three outpatient clinics located in Milford, Northbridge and Franklin, to provide one-of-a-kind therapy, developing a rehabilitation program that is unique to you, utilizing state of the art techniques and tools  such as:

  • Custom splint fabrication
  • Manual therapy
  • Management of pain and edema
  • Modalities such as:
    • Electrical stimulation (TENS, iontophoresis), ultrasound, laser, fluidotherapy, superficial heat/cold packs and paraffin
  • Desensitization
  • Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • Wound and scar management for post surgical patients
  • BTE Simulator
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • SAEBO Arm Training Program
  • Functional activity and home exercise programs
  • Activity modifications, when necessary


Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine:

Milford – 42 Cape Road (508) 422-2388

Northbridge – 100 Commerce Drive (508) 234-8792

Franklin – 2 Forge Parkway (508) 528-2748


This blog was written by Karen Connell, MOTS at Milford Regional Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine in Northbridge.

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