Hand therapy is a therapeutic treatment for anyone who can no longer use his or her hand(s) in a normal way, due to an accident, wear or overload. Hand therapy is a specialization within the field of physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Hand therapy deals with the treatment of disorders of the hand and/or wrist. These are complicated joints. The twenty-seven bones, thirty joints, more than forty muscles and countless straps, blood vessels and nerves ensure that a hand can move with a lot of force or just with enormous precision.
Injury or illness to the hand may have major impact on daily functioning. An operation is not always necessary: in some cases the desired result can be achieved with the help of therapy. The therapy is aimed at using the hand as good as possible again. This form of care is also known as conservative rehabilitation. Apart from conservative there is postoperative rehabilitation. This means the care after surgery. After surgery, the emphasis is on stimulating the healing process: wound care, scar treatment, exercise therapy, splint therapy and edema control.
Hand therapy can be applied in case of the following symptoms and disorders:
- Stiffness and pain caused by accidents with fractures or cuts.
- Wear (osteoarthritis).
- Tendinitis or tendon injuries.
- Sports injuries.
- Rheumatism (arthritis).
- Rehabilitation after surgery.
- Tingling or numbness in the hand.
- Hypermobility in the joints.
The therapy consists of giving instructions and advice and/or exercise therapy to improve mobility, strength and coordination. But the hand therapist can also tailor a splint or brace. The patient can take this splint home directly. A splint aims to immobilize, support or increase mobility of the hand. The treatment often includes three to four visits; rehabilitation after a fracture or surgery often takes eight to twelve weeks.
Disorders in the hand region can quickly become a hindrance in everyday life. Good treatment is therefore important. The goal of hand therapy is to ensure that the patient can resume his or her activities as soon as possible by receiving advice and treatment.
- Hand therapy requires great motivation and commitment from the patient. The instruction and exercise therapy that he or she receives should be performed at home, as agreed. Only in this way will it succeed to use the hand as well as possible again in the daily tasks at home, at work, at school or at hobbies.