Hand Therapy: A highly skilled practice

Working with an advanced certified hand therapist can make all the difference when it comes to treating complex hand surgical cases. Certified Hand Therapists (CHTs) specialize in treating hand and upper extremity conditions working closely with orthopedic and general surgeons who also specialize in the hand. Their aim is to ensure the highest outcomes for patients. These therapists expand on the care provided by the surgical team, while also serving as coach and trainer for patients. The certified hand therapist credential is something few therapists undertake as it is rigorous program that only some achieve. In fact, there are fewer than 6,000 CHT’s in the world and Santa Rosa Orthopaedics is fortunate to employ two CHT’s.

“SRO hand therapy specialists have the finely tuned expertise to help take patients through the recovery process for most every hand and upper extremity injury or repair,” explains Cynthia Syiek MA, OTR/L, CHT. “As certified hand therapists, our goal is to help each patient overcome the challenges associated with an injury so they can return to work and resume daily activities that are not only necessary but support quality of life.”

The Art and Science of Hand Therapy
Hand therapy is evaluating and treating injuries and conditions of the upper extremity including shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand. This highly specialized therapy encompasses a range of therapeutic interventions to help return patients to their highest level of function.

A hand therapist is someone who has first undergone the full training for occupational therapist (OT), or physical therapist (PT). They have continued to advance their professional education combining it with clinical experience and knowledge in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology. Through this process they become proficient in treatment of pathological upper extremity conditions due to trauma, disease, congenital or acquired deformity. Hand therapists treat basic hand conditions.

Certified Hand Therapist – CHT
A hand therapist who chooses to pursue a career as a certified hand therapist (CHT) is required to practice for at least three years, (4,000 hours), providing treatment for hand and upper extremity disorders. Certified hand therapists must also pass a demanding certification exam to demonstrate competency in the practice. Every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.

The Hand Therapy Program
Hand therapy is a very necessary element of orthopedic care as these highly trained professionals have unique knowledge and experience needed to manage the challenging recovery of complex hand and upper extremity injuries. Hand therapists follow through on the medical aspects of upper extremity conditions to ensure successful recovery, with the goal of helping patient to regain function, so they can ease back into their daily lives. Hand therapists provide non-operative interventions, preventative care, and post-surgical rehabilitation for a wide variety of upper extremity disorders ranging from simple fingertip injuries to complex replanted extremities.

SRO’s hand therapists specialize in a variety of post-surgical and post traumatic injuries including replantations and revascularizations, tendon repairs, burns, and fractures/dislocations along with degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis and tendon conditions including DeQuervain’s and lateral epicondylitis.

Our hand therapists are highly skilled in the application and modification of treatment techniques including range of motion, strengthening, wound care, joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, static and dynamic splinting, physical agent modalities, ergonomic assessments, workstation modifications, and patient education. They also work closely with physicians and patients to fabricate specialized splints designed to protect muscles, tendons, and joints.

Learn more about SRO’s Physical & Hand Therapy.