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Hand therapy is a specialized branch of occupational and physical therapy caring for individuals of all ages with challenges to their shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. A hand therapist is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who, through advanced study and experience, specializes in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity.

Therapy can effectively treat and rehabilitate the patient through post-operative rehabilitation, preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment or industry consultation. The therapist works closely with the physician and patient 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. Therapy may consist of manual techniques, exercise, coordination and fine motor control activities, education and pain-reducing treatments to promote return to an active life.

Many of these injuries also benefit from an orthotic (splint) to protect healing tissues, reduce stress on injured tissues, reduce scarring and regain lost range of motion. The therapists in hand therapy can make customized orthotics to meet the needs of each individual patient as opposed to the one-size-fits-all, off the shelf models. Orthotics are made from a variety of materials to comfortably and safely protect and position the injured extremity