What is Hand Therapy?

hand therapy patient

The hands, arms and shoulders perform a range of tasks and functions, whether it be on the job, at home or engaging in daily activities. When one or more of these areas suffer injury or is compromised, quality of life issues can develop as a result. Hand therapy is a form of rehabilitation that focuses on restoring mobility in these areas.

If you’ve recently undergone surgery for an injury or chronic medical condition involving the upper extremities, a hand therapist can help you retrain and rebuild the affected muscles, joints and tendons and restore functional capacity. Dr Damon Thomas of Melbourne has extensive training and experience in conditions involving the hands, arms and shoulders, offering a variety of treatment interventions to accommodate each patient’s individual needs. Your care doesn’t end once surgery is over – Dr Thomas will ensure that you schedule follow up sessions with a hand therapist so you can regain function quickly and more thoroughly. To schedule a consultation appointment, call us today on 03 9034 7738.

What’s Involved with Hand Therapy?

Hand therapy is a specialty field that focuses on treating injuries and conditions involving the upper extremities. Problems affecting the upper extremities tend to impair muscle, nerve and joint functioning, which lessens mobility and may also involve pain. Areas treated include:

  • Hand
  • Wrist
  • Forearm
  • Elbow
  • Arm
  • Shoulder

The process of hand therapy starts with evaluating your condition, drafting a treatment plan and using therapeutic interventions to restore functionality to the area being treated. Problems with the upper extremities can result from any number of circumstances including work-related injuries, accidents as well as chronic physical conditions, such as arthritis.

Hand therapy is often needed in cases where a person has just had surgery and requires rehabilitation. Preventative care measures also fall under the purview of hand therapy. Ultimately, the goal of hand therapy works to restore the affected area to its highest level of functioning.

What Does a Hand Therapist Do?

Conditions involving the upper extremities can have widespread repercussions, making it difficult to function at work and home. Chronic or intermittent pain symptoms may also be an issue. For these reasons, hand therapists can be found working within occupational as well as physical therapy roles.

Hand therapists often bridge the gap between medical care and the ongoing recovery in terms of retraining the affected joints, nerves and muscles during the healing process. For chronic conditions, such as arthritis educating patients on how to protect their joints and conserve energy (or movement) is also part of a hand therapist’s role. In some cases, a hand therapist may also recommend the use of adaptive equipment, such as weighted utensils to support a patient’s recovery efforts.

Hand Therapy Treatment Uses

The impact of surgery and post-op recovery can leave joints, nerves and muscles in a weakened state, which makes mobility all the more difficult to achieve. Likewise, chronic conditions can cause increasing damage in these areas when left untreated, especially when pain is a factor. In both cases, regaining mobility without harming or further damaging the affected area are essential treatment uses for hand therapy.

Whether you’re trying to regain mobility in a work-related capacity or to carry out everyday tasks and activities, hand therapy can help. The treatment uses for hand therapy may take the form of:

  • Learning to complete routine tasks, such as grabbing and lifting
  • Regaining feeling after a nerve injury
  • Strengthening joints and muscles
  • Pain management

Who Can Benefit from Hand Therapy?

If you’ve suffered injury caused by an accident or have a chronic physical condition involving the upper extremities, you may be a good candidate for hand therapy. While medical care can go a long way towards correcting trauma-related conditions, ongoing treatment may be needed to reach your highest level of functioning. Hand therapy can be of benefit in cases involving:

  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Amputations (hands, arms, fingers)
  • Injured tendons
  • Injured nerves

Some chronic physical conditions can also benefit from hand therapy treatment, including:

  • Fine motor skill deficiencies in the hands and fingers
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Hand pain
  • Repetitive Motion Disorder
  • Trigger Finger
  • Mobility problems caused by ganglion cysts

Hand therapy treatment applications include any number of circumstances and physical conditions. If you experience mobility problems with your hand, arm or shoulder, it’s likely you can benefit from some level of treatment. A consultation with Dr Thomas can help you determine if hand therapy is something you may want to consider after he helps you regain form and function in your hands through surgery.

Personalised Treatment Planning

Dr Thomas takes a personalised approach with each patient, taking the time to understand the circumstances surrounding your condition and draft a treatment plan that’s tailored to address your specific needs and goals. Whether your condition requires post-op rehabilitation, occupational therapy or rehabilitation from a chronic issue, Dr Thomas can help you take steps towards restoring mobility in the affected area.

A treatment plan lays out the steps, goals and objectives involved in your recovery. The treatment planning process includes the following components:

  • Initial assessment
  • Evaluations and testing
  • Your medical history
  • Make any necessary referrals to ensure a continuum of care
  • Lists any special tools or equipment needed to support your recovery
  • Desired outcomes

If you have additional questions regarding hand therapy or want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Thomas, please feel free to call us today on 03 9034 7738.