Hand therapy is a type of rehabilitation performed by a certified physical or occupational therapist for patients suffering from injuries or conditions related to the hands and upper extremities. In honor of National Hand Therapy Week from June 5-11, EXCEL Director of Hand Therapy, Joseph Martinez, PT, DPT, CHT, is providing FIVE (for every finger!) fun facts about hand therapy. 


1. Hand therapy is a VERY specialized field.

After earning a degree in Physical or Occupational Therapy, a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) must complete a rigorous set of prerequisites to earn his or her credentials. These requirements include a minimum of three years and 4,000 hours of direct patient care working with the upper extremity. Once this clinical experience is obtained, individuals must pass the Hand Therapy Certification examination through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission. Once a CHT passes their certification exam, they must complete continuing education & recertify every 5 years for the rest of their clinical career. Needless to say, hand therapy is an incredibly specialized field.  


2. Hand therapy is not JUST for the hand.

Contrary to the name, hand therapy is beneficial to more than just hand related issues. Hand therapy can address many conditions of the upper extremity, including the elbow, wrist, shoulder, and even upper extremity disorders originating from the neck. These conditions and issues can include injuries such as fractures, lacerations, crush injuries, etc., but they can also include illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Hand therapy can be prescribed prior to or following surgery of the hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder. It can also help patients who have had any part of the upper extremity amputated or are at risk of losing the function of their arm. There are almost limitless benefits to hand therapy rehabilitation. 


3. There are many types of modalities and treatments when it comes to hand therapy.

Typically, during the initial hand therapy appointment a patient will undergo an evaluation of the upper extremity ailment to identify any deficits and determine the appropriate modalities and interventions needed to treat them. Hand therapy utilizes many treatments, including therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, scar/wound management, adaptive practices and more. But hand therapy isn’t just manual or exercise therapy – it can also include casting and custom-making orthotics and splints to protect an injury or assist with continued function. 


4. Hand therapy is for EVERYONE.

While the hand therapy process is custom tailored to each patients’ unique needs and goals, hand therapy and rehabilitation can truly benefit anyone. From the lead guitarist of a rock band, to a car mechanic, to a stay-at-home mom trying to pick up her kids, to a senior suffering from hand arthritis, to an athlete looking to get back in the game, any person experiencing upper extremity discomfort or pain can find improvement from hand therapy. Through exercise, manual treatments, adaptive practices, and pain control, a CHT will help improve function with the goal of getting the patient back to their regular lifestyle.  


5. You don’t need a prescription from a doctor to see a hand therapist.

Great news! Just like orthopedic physical therapy, in the state of New Jersey you do NOT need a prescription from a doctor to start hand therapy. Most personal insurances will cover direct access, allowing you to save on medical costs and start feeling better faster. In the case that further evaluation or additional diagnostics are required, we are happy to make a referral to a trusted physician. If you are suffering from any kind of ailment of the upper extremity and it is affecting your profession or overall quality of life, you can start treatment as soon as you’re ready.  


At EXCEL our priority is to get you better and feel better faster. Learn more about EXCEL’s Hand Therapy services or schedule an appointment with our CHT team.

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.