What is Hand Therapy?

Hand therapy is the discipline that addresses injuries and conditions of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

Certified hand therapists are either occupational or physical therapists who have specialized training in treating upper extremity conditions through advanced study. Our certified hand therapists work closely with physicians and patients to provide a continuum of care. Treatment often begins within days of the injury or surgery and continues until the client has returned to work and/or a productive lifestyle.

About Hand Therapy

Occupational therapy with our certified hand therapist will be scheduled for you within the first week following your surgery, sometimes as soon as the next day.

Why start so early?

You may wonder if your occupational therapy is beginning too soon after surgery, especially if you’ve had more than one finger treated. In fact, movement after surgery is vitally important:  Your therapist will show you the correct way to move to promote the fastest recovery possible.

In therapy, your therapist will:

  • Remove the post surgical dressing.
  • Monitor the healing of your incision site.
  • Begin moving the fingers, wrist and/or elbow as you can tolerate.
  • Make an orthotic to replace the post-surgical dressing.
  • Review proper wound/incision care.
  • Review your customized home program of symptom control and exercises.
    • Early exercise is key to keeping joints moving and not getting stiff
    • Depending on the injury and surgery performed, exercise programs may be prescribed a few times a day to hourly starting the day after surgery

How can I prepare for the first day of therapy?

  • Take your pain medication 1-2 hours before your first therapy appointment. It is always a good idea to take this with food/protein to avoid nausea. Sometimes nausea starts when you see your hand unwrapped for the first time.
  • Have someone drive you to your appointment.
  • Eat a good meal before coming to therapy. This helps give you the strength to participate fully in your appointment.
  • Bring your calendar with you. You will likely need to make multiple therapy appointments at the conclusion of your evaluation.
  • Realize therapy is a commitment to your recovery and the more consistently you attend therapy and participate in your home program, the better your outcome will be.

If you have questions regarding your therapy needs or other concerns please call us at (231) 739-1933. We would like this to be a seamless process for you and we look forward to assisting in your recovery.

Therapy Evaluation and Treatment

Following a thorough evaluation, an individualized treatment plan will be developed for each client and may include:

  • Swelling management
  • Range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • Home exercise development
  • Scar and soft tissue massage
  • Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, laser treatments
  • Joint protection principles
  • Desensitization and sensory re-education
  • Wound care
  • Custom orthosis fabrication
  • Moist heat and cold therapy
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Therapeutic activities