Are you recovering from a thumb injury or broken finger? Or do you have arthritis? These hand conditions can be frustrating and take a toll on the quality of your life. You may ask yourself: “Should I see a Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist or a Hand Therapist?”
Hand therapists are physiotherapists / occupational therapists who have specific training & qualifications in treating conditions & injuries of the upper limb – including hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders.
What Is The Difference Between A Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist & A Hand Therapist?
A Physiotherapist (or “physio”) practices physiotherapy. Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, is an allied health profession focused on treating pain, injuries, physical impairments and chronic illnesses through exercise, massage, physical manipulation and patient education. You may think of physiotherapist as someone you see when you have back pain or sports related injuries. However, physiotherapy more than that. Physiotherapists are highly-trained professionals who provide treatments for patients suffering from injuries or illnesses that limit their ability to move or perform daily activities. They are dedicated to alleviating their patients’ pain, improve their mobility and physical functionality, prevent or lessen deformities and eventually improve their quality of life. All physiotherapists in Australia have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in Physiotherapy.
Occupational Therapists (or “OTs”) on the other hand aim to provide personal care for individuals, helping individuals to rebuild optimal function in everyday activities and may introduce equipment, or recommend ergonomic & environmental changes to facilitate recovery or prevent further injury. Occupational therapists may visit homes and workplaces of patients to assess their needs, providing guidance so that patients can perform daily activities at ease and with confidence. Occupational therapists have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy.
A Hand Therapist is a qualified physiotherapist or occupational therapist who has specialised in the field of hand therapy. In Australia, in order to be an accredited hand therapist, a physiotherapist has to be a member Australian Hand Therapy Association. In order to become an accredited member, one has to gain at least 3600 hours of clinical hand therapy experience and have to complete a series of Australian Hand Therapist Association courses.
Why See A Hand Therapist?
- Hand therapists are specialists with an in-depth anatomical knowledge of the upper extremities. They can precisely diagnose your hand problems and injuries. This specialised knowledge allows a hand therapist to design exercises, apply massages and scar management specially for you, ensuring you have smooth and comfortable healing process.
- Hand therapists understand the importance of normal hand mobility. Therefore, they are dedicated to helping you regain the normal physical ability of the hand. This dedication makes sure you get a caring and extensive rehabilitation program.
- One of the skills or specialties of hand therapists is their ability to fabricate splints, braces, casts and orthoses. Since every injury and every hand is unique, the ability to fabricate and apply custom orthoses / splinting to suit the specific injury and patient is crucial. A hand therapist will assess your injury and daily activities in order to design the best splint or orthosis for you.
- Hand therapists work closely with GPs, surgeons, and other physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They have specialised knowledge in wound and scar management. They may also be responsible for removing postoperative sutures, cleaning and caring for injuries and wounds.
A hand therapist can treat the following finger, hand, wrist & elbow related problems:
- Sports Injuries of the hand / upper limb
- Work Related Injuries such as RSI, lacerations & burns
- Arthritis Of The Hands
- Children’s Hand Injuries
- Trigger Finger
- Thumb Pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Elbow Pain
- Wrist Pain
- Mallet Finger
Why See A Hand Therapist?
If you have been diagnosed a condition for have injured any part of your upper limb (fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows), don’t hesitate to contact Central Victorian Hand Therapy (Central Victorian Hand Therapy) to make an appointment for a consultation to assess and develop a treatment plan manage your condition, reduce pain an to aid in your recovery.