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Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

Certified Hand Therapy

Certified Hand Therapy

What is a Certified Hand Therapist?

A Certified Hand Therapist is either a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist with specialized training involving the upper extremities (fingertip to shoulder). The practitioner will have at least 3 years of clinical experience and successfully completed the HTCC (Hand Therapy Certification Commission) process. The practitioner will also have at least 4000 hours of direct care within that time.  Certified Hand Therapists have extensive detailed knowledge of the upper extremity anatomy and physiology that aids them in assessing and treating upper extremity disorders.  Timely assessment and conservative management may result in prevention or delay of surgical intervention.

As of 2018, there are 6200 worldwide who hold the CHT designation (HTCC, 2018). There are less than 300 CHT in all of Canada and less than 15 Manitoba (as of June 2018).

What do Certified Hand Therapists Offer?

Certified hand therapists have additional education in areas of assessment, diagnosis, and management of the upper extremity.  Certified hand therapists have advanced practice skills in the upper extremity (fingertip to shoulder girdle and everything in between),  post-surgical management of upper extremity injury, splint/bracing prescription, custom orthoses fabrication (static, serial static, dynamic & static progressive splinting),  measuring for silver ring orthoses, and wound care.

What Do Certified Hand Therapist Treat?

  • Jammed finger
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Rotator cuff injury / repair
  • Tendonitis / tendon repair
  • Golfer or tennis elbow
  • Thumb and wrist arthritis
  • Thumb strain
  • Repetitive strain
  • Joint replacement
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Upper extremity nerve injuries (tingling into the fingers/arm)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological upper extremity disorders
  • Post surgical rehabilitation
  • Workplace / crush injury
  • De Quervains
  • Skier Thumb
  • Thoracic Outlet
  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Fractures of the upper extremity

What Can I Expect at Donna Sarna Physiotherapy?

At Donna Sarna Physiotherapy, a Certified Hand Therapist conducts a detailed initial assessment which includes a personal history / information gathering and an upper extremity assessment.  The upper extremity assessment component includes evaluating mobility of the muscles and soft tissue structure, the fascial system, as well as global posture, range of motion, strength, grip and dexterity.  The assessment also includes skin inspection and scar assessment as indicated, as well as stability, sensation and neuromuscular testing.

Upon completion of the assessment, your Certified Hand Therapist will discuss goal setting and develop an individualized treatment plan to address specific needs.  Treatment may include education, especially involving posture, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy to address tissue tightness and tension involving the affected muscles or fascial systems, scar tissue or joints.  Thermal modalities (e.g., heat, paraffin bath) are used to improve collagen elasticity.  A home exercise program may be prescribed to address global posture issues and individual muscle weakness. Bracing may also be prescribed or custom thermal plastic orthoses / splinting may be fabricated in order to improve joint integrity and stability or to rest the inflamed joint. Assessment findings are shared with the client and a comprehensive care plan is created.