An introduction to
Hand and arm therapy
Specialised treatment required
Hand therapy is the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of hand and upper limb injuries (elbow, forearm, wrist and hand).
In New Zealand, a registered Hand Therapist will have undertaken a physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy degree and completed post-graduate study in the hand and upper limb. As a result, they will have advanced skills in assessing, diagnosing and managing conditions of the upper limb.
They work closely with the patient and their GPs and specialists to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery, right through the patient’s return to work and/or a productive lifestyle.
Conditions / injuries commonly treated by a Hand Therapist:
• Trigger finger
• Mallet finger
• Nail bed or crush injury
• Volar plate sprains
• Central slip (Boutoniere) tendon injuries
• Skiers thumb
• Goalkeepers thumb
• Crush injuries and amputations
• Post-operative Dupuytrens surgery
• Nerve compression including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
• Sprains of finger, thumb, wrist and elbow.
• Tendon injuries.
• Arthritic hand conditions.
• Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) / Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) including de Quervains
• Burns/skin grafts
• Chronic pain and Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Treatment may include:
• Custom made splinting for protection / rest
• Dynamic splints
• Fitting of off-the-shelf orthotics
• Manual and mobilisation therapy/exercises
• Progressive strengthening and rehabilitation exercises
• Wound management following surgery or acute trauma
• Acute swelling management including compression bandages, oedema gloves and massage
• Scar management to soften and flatten hypertrophic scars
• Sensitivity testing and retraining
• Desensitisation programmes